PATERSON, NJ - During a bill signing ceremony Thursday, Governor Chris Christie was joined by Jon Bon Jovi as he approved the bipartisan Overdose Protection Act (S2082) into law at Turning Point in Paterson, an addiction treatment facility that treats more than two thousand seven hundred men and women each year.
Bill S2082, that passed the Senate 24-1 on Monday, combines important aspects from the Opioid Antidote and Overdose Prevention Act with the Good Samaritan Act, which Governor Christie initially rejected and recommended changes to in October 2012.
The legislation takes a two-prong approach to help prevent drug overdose deaths in New Jersey. First, it provides legal protection to people who are in violation of the law while they are attempting to help a drug overdose victim. Secondly, it eliminates negative legal action against health care professionals or bystanders who administer overdose antidotes in life-threatening situations.
After meeting with several patients at the modern facility with over one hundred beds, Christie said the rehab center is one of the great places in New Jersey that provides extraordinary care to people who need it and want to be saved. “From my prospective, this gives more people an opportunity. You have rights regardless of your past,” the Governor said.
The new law builds on the Governor’s commitment and understanding that drug abuse is a disease to be treated and dealt with, not simply from a punitive law enforcement perspective. It comes in addition to the Governor’s commitment to expand the Drug Court program across the state, giving those individuals who commit non-violent crimes the chance to veer off the path of committing crime to feed a drug addiction. Under this expansion, offenders are required to undergo mandatory drug treatment rather than just necessarily be incarcerated.
Surrounded by drug prevention advocates and overdose victims’ family members, the Governor emphasized rehabilitation as his approach to dealing with drug abuse and addiction. “Paterson is hosting a great facility that is helping to save lives,” Christie stated.
On behalf of those individuals and their families whose lives will be saved by this important legislation, Bon Jovi thanked Governor Christie and the New Jersey Legislature for passing the Good Samaritan bill. “Today is a great day and I hope Governor Christie’s actions here will cause other states to stand up,” Bon Jovi said.
“As someone who has lost my son to an overdose, I know all too well the tragic consequences drugs can have,” said Patty DiRenzo, whose son Salvatore Marchese died from drug overdose on September 23, 2010. “If people are no longer afraid of getting arrested in overdose situations, they will be more likely to call 911 and get help. No one should be left alone to die.”
“No life is disposable, and this bill represents a giant leap forward in New Jersey’s commitment to protecting and preserving all life, particularly when people need it most,” said Governor Christie. “As elected officials, it’s our obligation to ensure that we are doing everything we can to prevent tragic deaths from drug overdoses, and I believe this bill will do that. I’m grateful that we were able to come together and reach this bipartisan compromise and take meaningful action on this very important issue today.”