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Legislators Aim at Extending Overdose Immunity

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With Illinois averaging high rates of death from opioid abuse, state lawmakers want to extend immunity to those with criminal records who alert first responders when an overdose occurs. Sponsored by West Side Democrat La Shawn Ford, a bill that confers protections under the state’s 2012 Good Samaritan law to parolees and those on supervised release is working its way through the House. In the Senate, Democrat Rachel Crowe is spearheading a committee that will explore solutions to the crisis that since 2008 has killed 11,000 Illinois residents. Crowe, a former prosecutor in Madison County, is calling for bipartisan support in tackling the nationwide epidemic. The state’s average of more than 17 deaths per 100,000 residents is above the national average. In 2017, firefighters in Chicago responded to an average of 21 overdose calls per day. Heroin is classed as a controlled substance in Illinois and possession draws heavy fines and long prison sentences.