If the proposal is approved, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio could make his city the first in the nation to provide supervised injection sites for intravenous drug users.
The proposal is designed to help put an end to the opiate epidemic in the state as New York City alone saw 1,400 drug overdose deaths in 2017.
Many cities and countries throughout the world that have adopted similar programs have seen drastic reductions in the overall number of drug overdose deaths, as well as a significant decrease in HIV and hepatitis.
The move is also welcomed by prisoner’s rights advocates, who have been railing against overly punitive drug laws and the lack of alternatives drug users face, as well as the absence of government-funded rehabilitation programs.
Roughly 46% of the U.S. prison population is comprised of inmates who committed nonviolent drug offenses — that’s approximately 80,000 individuals in prison simply for using or possessing drugs.
If safe injection sites were implemented throughout the country, not only would we see a decrease in overdose deaths as well as disease, but it would alleviate our already highly-impacted prison system and take some of the burden for housing those inmates off of taxpayers.
Furthermore, it would increase the chances of drug users seeking rehabilitation treatment and would also increase the chances of those individuals returning to society as functional and contributing members.