Overdose women protected under Good Samaritan Law

The Good Samaritan Law always protects witnesses; for victims, it's up to the police's discretion

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – No drug charges and no jail time for 4 women who overdosed on heroin last Saturday at a home in Springfield, right in front of their kids. A 12-year-old girl called 9-1-1, and first responders used the opiate reversal drug Naloxone to save their lives.

22News found out these women won’t be charged, because of the state’s 911 Good Samaritan Law. The law provides protection from drug possession charges when an overdose victim or an overdose witness seeks medical attention. The witness is always protected.

Massachusetts General Law states:

Section 13. No person who, in good faith, provides or obtains, or attempts to provide or obtain, assistance for a victim of a crime as defined in section one, shall be liable in a civil suit for damages as a result of any acts or omissions in providing or obtaining, or attempting to provide or obtain, such assistance unless such acts or omissions constitute willful, wanton or reckless conduct.

Whether the Good Samaritan Law applies to the victims is up to the discretion of the police officers involved. Springfield Police Sgt. John Delaney told 22News the women will not be facing any drug charges because they thought arresting them would give the 12 year-old girl the idea that what she did was wrong.

Neighbor Essence Eddington agrees the decision protects the child, but also said it contributes to a growing opiate epidemic. “Someone or something needs to be held accountable,” said Eddington. “Something needs to happen here, because this epidemic is going to continue and continue if everyone is protected.”

Sgt. Delaney said the intent in situations like these is to save lives, not make arrests. He encourages anyone in similar overdose situations to also call for help.

Springfield Police couldn’t confirm who is now caring for the children involved.