An Overdose Death Is Not Murder: Why Drug-Induced Homicide Laws Are Counterproductive and Inhumane

Report, Video November 6, 2017

We are in the middle of a tragic increase in drug overdose deaths. Countless lives have been lost – each one leaving an irreparable rift in the hearts and lives of their families and friends. These tragedies are best honored by implementing evidence-based solutions that help individuals, families, and communities heal and that prevent additional avoidable deaths.

This report examines one strategy – “drug-induced homicide” – that the evidence suggests is intensifying, rather than helping, the problem and calls for leaders to turn toward proven measures to address rapidly increasing rates of overdose deaths.

Download the Full Report (PDF)

What is “drug-induced homicide”?

Drug-induced homicide refers to the crime of delivering drugs that result in a death.

In the 1980s, as the war on drugs grew out of control, the federal government and many states passed laws intended to punish people who provided drugs that led to accidental overdose deaths with sentences equivalent to those for manslaughter and murder.

For the first few decades, these laws were rarely used by police or prosecutors, but steadily increasing rates of drug overdose deaths across the country have led police and prosecutors to revive them.

How are these laws hurting people?

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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