Community Crisis: Criminal or Addict? Law Enforcement, Courts, and Policymakers Weigh In

The line between criminal and addict can be a thin one for people whose loved ones are battling an opioid addiction.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heroin use is up across all demographics meaning someone you know or love could be addicted.

“What happens when a person is in an active addiction is they burn all of those bridges between them and the people around them,” says Ingham County Chief Justice Don Allen who presides over the Ingham County Sobriety Court.

“For me there’s actually no real line..that the person is one person who has committed an offense so that offense has to be dealt with because that’s a violation of the law. but having that offense in front of you actually gives you an opportunity to get that person treatment,” said Allen.

Jackson County Sheriff Steve Rand agrees, and told 6 News that his office is taking a new approach, and find a better solution that arresting drug addicts.

“If we find someone that has used or overdosed or is really sick, we don’t tend to charge nor does the prosecutors office tend to charge these crimes. We try to get those folks to work with us,” Rand told our cameras.

In Judge Allen’s courtroom he subscribes to the believe that there are no disposable members of our society, and that public servants need to do what they’re “supposed” to do on behalf of those people.

“I will tell [the addicts] I’m going to suspend all of your jail time as long as you go and you do the treatment and the recommended aftercare,” said Allen.

Michigan residents will find that attitudes and approaches either have changed or are currently changing across the board; from law enforcement, to the judicial system, and even in the legislative chambers.

Former House Representative and Current State Budget Director Al Pscholka worked to introduce and pass an expansion to Michigan’s Good Samaritan law in the State House last year. The law grants amnesty to those seeking medical attention for an overdose.

“The more research you do, the more you find out about this problem, I think the more your attitude will change,” said Pscholka.

If you have a loved one battling addiction, and are looking for resources click here to visit the Families Against Narcotics Webpage.







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