© 2022 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Ohio ACLU Calls on City to Stop Charging People With Inducing Panic When They Overdose

Narcan kit
Ohio's Inducing Panic Law has been used to charge 12 people in the courthouse since February. The law cites those who cause "serious public inconvenience or alarm."

The ACLU of Ohio is urging the Washington Courthouse to stop its practice of charging people who need to be revived with an anti-overdose antidote.

The organization sent a letter condemning the misdemeanor charge under Ohio’s Inducing Panic Law. The penalties under the charge are sentences of 180 days and up to a $1,000 fine.

Elizabeth Bonham, a staff attorney for the ACLU, says it makes no sense to punish anyone who is looking for help.

“If the police and EMS merely having to do their jobs could be criminalized, then every time a police officer responded to a range of things from a domestic violence situation to someone needing to get their cat down out of a tree, they could be charged under this statute.”

According to the ACLU, 12 people have been charged under the law in the Washington Courthouse since February.

The city has said its strategy is aimed at helping authorities track overdose victims and offer them aid.