April 7 2017
If in a week four people were shot or there were four hit and run deaths, there would be a public outcry.
The simple fact is that as of April 7th 2017, there have been nine overdoses and four deaths here in Sarasota.
There is a bad batch of heroin in town killing addicts.
Even with the administration of “Narcan”, an antidote, by EMS responders, people are still dying. Chief of Police DiPino has asked for public help on identifying the suppliers. The problem is that dead men tell no tales and the people who overdosed and died are not alive to testify as to where the drugs were purchased. As a Sarasota criminal defense lawyer I see both sides of the problem. I was blogging constantly trying to alert law enforcement that unless the pill addicts were treated, all the prescription drug database would do is push addicts into heroin use as a substitute for Oxycontin and Oxycodone. My predictions came true.
Drug addiction is a medical problem that causes crime. Addicts steal, break into houses, break into businesses and steal from employers to support a habit. This is what I call collateral crime. The underlying problem is addiction. Sadly, most of these individuals were normal functional people prior to addiction. Why do you think there is a prostitution problem on the North Trail? Why do you think we have the enormous homeless problem? Why is it that the general public is not outraged at the number of deaths this year? The heroin is cut with Fentanyl and people are dropping like flies. This is not just a problem in the poor neighborhoods. This is a problem that cuts across society. Law enforcement alone cannot solve this problem. We need education, prevention and treatment. Jailing an addict does not solve anything in the long run. Methadone clinics simply replace illegal heroin with legal methadone. That does not treat but rather only perpetuates the addiction.
Drug Court here is Sarasota is a fantastic start and Judge Owens has done more for this community than anyone. He is retiring and will stay on for a while but his compassionate approach will be missed. We have to treat the cause, not the symptom. Jail or prison is not the answer. I predict that the State attorney’s office is going to start filing homicide charges against heroin dealers when they can show the drug leads to a death. Attacking the suppliers is one approach but attacking demand is a better approach. We need to keep people from ever becoming addicted and for the ones that are addicted we need long-term rehab facilities.