HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed legislation yesterday to provide prosecutorial immunity to people who overdose on drugs and to witnesses who call emergency authorities for help. Introduced by Senator Dominic Pileggi, Senate Bill 1164 also expands access to the overdose antidote Naloxone to include first responders and family and friends of persons with opiate addictions.

The following can be attributed to Reggie Shuford, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which supported the legislation:

“This is a significant change in the commonwealth’s approach to drug addiction. It’s clear that lawmakers are realizing that we need to take a public health approach to substance abuse. The law enforcement approach has failed.

“To be clear, there is still plenty of work to be done, including the reduction of mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenses and increased investment in treatment and prevention. But this new law suggests that Pennsylvania is taking a 21st century approach to drug use.”

The following can be attributed to Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania:

“We applaud Senator Pileggi for his leadership on this issue and Governor Corbett for signing the bill. Multiple House members made this happen, as well, including Gene DiGirolamo, Dan Frankel, Joe Hackett, and Ron Marsico.

“The ‘War on Drugs” has been a total failure. We cannot incarcerate our way out of this problem.

“This new law will save lives. That has to be the highest priority in the commonwealth’s approach to substance abuse.”