'The truth—well, the truth is that I've had a long-standing problem with heroin addiction'

Bill Day was a reliable source of clean needles for San Antonio's heroin addicts until authorities forced him to shut down his operation. Day helped found the Bexar Area Harm Reduction Coalition in 2003, and collected over 10,000 dirty needles since the program started. And ironically, he had legislative support:

Day, who has AIDS but didn't get it through drug use, started passing out needles in San Antonio regularly a little over a year ago. Around the same time, the state Legislature authorized Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, to set up a separate pilot program.

But [District Attorney Susan] Reed said in August that anyone with a needle, even in the program, was breaking the law. "It's just a question of law," she said.

Attorney General Greg Abbott backed up Reed, saying people who possess drug paraphernalia as part of a needle-exchange program can be prosecuted because the law didn't specifically exempt them.

Read the whole story here.

Steve Chapman wrote in support of needle exchange programs here.

Hat tip to Austin reader, KJ Radebaugh.

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  • Elemenope||

    Sounds like a job for the legislature.

    District Attorneys (despite how I don't like them and would generally like to blame them for all of society's ills) can't fix a stupid fucking law, and refusing to enforce one is dancing on razor blades, given their job description.

  • ||

    LMNOP,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I too was seeing red I was so angry at teh lazy DA (I mean, what was she doing, reading the freakin' newspaper?). But I can appreciate that being the DA in the capital of Texas, she needs to enforce the laws as written - it's her job for good or ill. So, the Texans need more Ron Pauls and less idiots in their Leg.
    No surprise, I s'pose.

  • ||

    Is there any good data on the impact of needle exchange programs on AIDS (and other disease) transmission rates, and the savings in health care costs associated with this?

  • ||

    Wait, so you mean they just forced him to shut down his operation?

    I was expecting a pre-dawn paramilitary SWAT raid, replete with concussion grenades, automatic weapons and liberal use of the Taser. Animals will be shot dead on sight (and then handcuffed for good measure), and when it's all said and done they'll plant a little baggie of weed in the basement.

  • ||

    Isn't this the purpose of "prosecutorial discretion"?

    for when something violates teh letter of the law, but certainly not the spirit.

    Aren't prosecutors supposed to be intelligent, rational creatures..not just mere cogs in some bureaucratic machine

  • Elemenope||

    ike --

    Fuck prosecutorial discretion. Discretion can only help a person in those rare moments where the defendant's view of the law and the prosecutor's view converge. In all other (vastly more common) cases, prosecutorial discretion is a red carpet invitation to abuse.

    I'd rather they take their intelligent rationality and stick to the letter of the law, and if in that process they witness that an area of the law produces rank injustice, that they inform the legislature with all deliberate speed of their findings so that the problem may be fixed without the application of taciturn "discretion".

  • Timothy||

    Texas generally, and San Antonio in particular, is mostly run by inbreds. We have enough crime in this city that maybe the DA should focus on real problems (like the Saturday Night Knife and Gun club) and the constant police abuse of the poor rather than a program that's doing a public health service.

  • robc||

    lmnop,

    The prosecutor could also, while following the letter of the law, inform the jury of their right to use jury nullification to fix the problem the legislature caused.

    Might be a fun closing argument: "Bill Day is clearly guilty of the law as passed by the state legislature. I, as an officer of the court, have no choice but to prosecute him. You, however, are under no such compulsion."

  • Elemenope||

    The prosecutor could also, while following the letter of the law, inform the jury of their right to use jury nullification to fix the problem the legislature caused.

    I would love for jury instructions to include explicit notification of the right to nullify.

    I would also love to have a flying car.

    Might be a fun closing argument: "Bill Day is clearly guilty of the law as passed by the state legislature. I, as an officer of the court, have no choice but to prosecute him. You, however, are under no such compulsion."

    Funny, I know a guy named Bill (O')Day. In any event, that might be worth it to just see the look on the defendant's lawyer's face, followed by the apoplectic-driven coronary that the judge develops.

  • Invisible Finger||

    and refusing to enforce one is dancing on razor blades, given their job description.

    Yeah, it's not like they could organize or anything.

  • Adolf Eichmann||

    and refusing to enforce one is dancing on razor blades, given their job description.

    I agree.

  • Robert||

    So what did the legislation say?

  • Nigel Watt||

    Greg Abbot is one big bitch. His big break was suing a guy because his tree fell on him during a jog.

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