It is no secret that there is an opioid crisis in the United States. People from all walks of life are falling prey to addiction, and its consequences are leaving families and communities devastated in the wake. Understandably, there has been a push for crackdown, but the resultant laws may be doing more harm than good. Drug-induced homicide laws, for example, are a questionable response to the drug crisis.
According to Rolling Stone, these laws extend liability for deaths caused by overdose to individuals who supplied or administered the drugs. Of course, there are legal issues surrounding proof of such actions, but the following are some other reasons such laws may be problematic.
It can be unintentional
While a murder charge would imply intent and deliberation, a homicide charge is not necessarily indicative of a purposeful killing. Still, a person charged under a drug-induced homicide law can be legally liable for a death that was entirely unintentional—they may not have even been present at the site of the death. It is questionable whether a person should be liable for such an unintentional death.
Dealers may be liable
While recklessness or negligence may certainly make a person liable for another’s death, it is complicated to argue that this is true even when the individual is not at the scene of the death. This is the case, though, when the authorities charge dealers with drug-induced homicide when they sell drugs that a user later overdoses on. A dealer in this situation may face charges for the decedent’s homicide.
Laws hinder rehabilitation
The result of these laws is often that addicts face penalties for other addicts’ deaths, and instead of providing rehabilitation for them, authorities punish them. This, arguably, perpetuates the cycle of addiction and is unlikely to prevent deaths or reduce addiction rates.