Life in Prison for a Single Dose

This is a slightly old story but I think it needs to be discussed. There are several key points that I feel are important to make.

Eugene Atkins, a 21 year old man from Grand Rapids, Michigan, was convicted in 2006 of selling a lethal dose of heroin to a 17-year-old boy. Matthew McKinney and his friend, Christopher Perrin, bought the heroin from Atkins, and Perrin administered heroin toMcKinney. Perrin was sentenced to 2 years for lying to authorities about his involvement.Check out the coverage of the original conviction here.

Tuesday, Atkins’ conviction was upheld.

Eugene Atkins II claims he shouldn’t be blamed for Matthew McKinney’s death because another person [Perrin] could have called for medical help. He says the jury that heard his case in 2006 should have been given that instruction.

Where is the trial for the pharmacist who gave Heath Ledger his sleeping pills? Why was there no hunt for Chris Farley’s supplier? There are quite a few people in Grand Rapidswho claim that the prosecution of Atkins is a racially charged witch hunt.

Whatever the reason, the fact of the matter is, if heroin were legal and regulated properly, it would have been a lot harder for those kids to get those drugs. They would be packed to indicate where the drugs came from, and the cashier would probably have said, “Hey kid, you look young, let me see some ID.” I’m sure that phrase is rarely uttered by drug dealers.

Personally, I don’t believe anyone should be in jail because of this situation. It wasn’t bad heroin, just a bad reaction. If this kid hadn’t died, neither his friend nor the dealer would be in jail, and those two being in jail will certainly not bring Matthew McKinney back. And it definitely will not do anything to help prevent similar tragedies in the future.

It’s very sad that this young man died, but it’s even more depressing to think that he might still be alive had his friend called for professional medical help. I don’t know the specifics of what Perrin did or did not do, but I can only assume that he was terrified about what would happen if the cops came and found the two of them in possession of an illegal substance. If Michigan had a publicized Good Samaritan law to protect people from criminal prosecution when calling for medical help for drug overdoses, perhaps Matthew might still be alive. You have the power to help prevent tragedies such as this. Please visithttp://ssdp.org/campaigns/ccc/goodsamaritan/ to learn how you can take action to implement Good Samaritan policies in your community.

Also, watch this video and share it with your friends by posting it to Facebook and Myspace. Also Digg it athttp://digg.com/health/Calling_for_help_shouldn_t_be_a_crime