Backers of Good Samaritan Bill Veto Override Need Jon Bon Jovi in Their Corner [POLL]
Earlier this year, the Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act was passed by both the State Assembly and Senate…which would give limited protection from charges for those who call emergency personnel to report overdoses.
The law is in effect in New York State, where recently Jon Bon Jovi’s daughter, Stephanie, had been rushed to a hospital near where she attends college due to a heroin overdose.
Investigators found heroin at the scene and later recovered marijuana and glassine envelopes after getting a search warrant, cops told the Daily News.
Bongiovi, the eldest of four kids Bon Jovi has with his wife of 23 years, was charged with misdemeanor possession of the heroin, misdemeanor marijuana possession, criminally using drug paraphernalia and a pot violation, police said.
Despite the evidence, prosecutors quickly rejected the case, citing a new New York State Good Samaritan law that protects people in situations of a suspected overdose.
“People will say she got away with murder because of who she is, but this law was passed so people don’t watch somebody die because they’re afraid of jail,” Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara told The News. “And you don’t want the person overdosing to say, ‘No, don’t call.’”
That’s the fight that’s now being waged by supporters of the veto override here in New Jersey.
Sal Marchese of Gloucester Township was on the road to overcoming his drug addiction, when on September 13th of 2010, police informed his mother, Patty DeRienzo, that his body was found in a car in Camden, lifeless, but apparently someone had been with him there.
His illness – drug addiction – had finally taken him. And whoever was with him might have thought to call 911. But that could mean drug charges.
That’s why DiRenzo joined other parents of overdose victims early this week in traveling to Trenton to urge state lawmakers to keep pushing for legislation that would shield from prosecution those who might otherwise report overdoses and save lives.
The Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act passed both the state Assembly and Senate this year. It would give limited protection from charges for those who call emergency personnel to report overdoses.
Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the bill, saying it might be imprudent in its current form. He said he’d consider signing the bill into law following an 18-month study of drug overdose reporting.
But the group visiting Trenton argues that’s too long, and more of those suffering from drug addiction may die in the meantime. They hope lawmakers will add the issue to their Dec. 17 agenda and vote to override Christie’s veto.
They joined with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) – a nationwide group opposed to policy that members say focuses too heavily on prosecution and not enough on treatment and compassion for addicts.
The latter is where Father John Stabeno comes in. A Catholic priest who has worked with addicts in detox, intervention, treatment and other methods, he joined the trip to Trenton.
In 2006, Stabeno founded the Prodigal House Foundation in Washington Township to help families dealing with addiction and other issues. He is also Director of Client Services for Lakeside Recovery Center, which offers various counseling services.
He said he and other advocates would call legislators and urge them to overcome the governor’s veto. He said he hopes they’ll put conscience above politics.
“Some people vote against it to fall in line with party allegiance,” Stabeno contended.
“But we hope the Assembly and Senate will see this as a life-saving issue rather than a political issue.”
Both houses had passed the bill “by a wide margin,” Stabeno noted, adding that Christie in the past has been supportive of treatment for addicts.
“He has supported treatment over imprisonment,” he said, adding he’s disappointed Christie took another path on the Good Samaritan bill.
And seeing is how Jon Bon Jovi’s daughter Stephanie was saved because of New York’s Good Samaritan law, I’d think he’d be a perfect advocate to join the fight to overturn the Governor’s veto here in New Jersey.
What say you?
Do you believe Jon Bon Jovi should join the fight to overturn the Governor’s veto of the Good Samaritan Bill?