Horry County Council Chair says people who overdose on Heroin should go to jail

Mark Lazarus wins Horry County Council Chair special election (Image 1)

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County Council leaders are trying to come up with ways to combat the Heroin epidemic in Horry County.

Monday, Chairman Mark Lazarus said people who overdose should spend 72 hours in jail.

Lazarus says the numbers are staggering when it comes to overdoses. Right now, he says emergency crews have to revive people who overdose, leave them because they refuse medical treatment, and hours later, they are back to revive the same person after another overdose.

“There’s no consequences for these people. There’s no consequences to suffer,” said Lazarus.

Right now, when emergency crews respond to an overdose, they give the person a drug called Narcan to revive them, but because they don’t have Heroin in their possession, they can’t be charged.

“If these people know that they’re going to jail and suffer the consequences and maybe at that time, there’s treatment options and things that we can have. We need to help them,” said Lazarus.

He says right now the jail has extra space, and this could give them an opportunity to look at treatment options and programs for the user.

“They’d have to go through a program, and hopefully we can get people into the program and hopefully we can get them saved. That would be the ultimate goal is to be able to save themselves from the drug,” said Lazarus.

Noreen Beck lost her son almost one year ago after he overdosed on Heroin, and she says she agrees with the plan to take the user to jail because she says it could save their life.

“When they’re brought to the hospital, they’re released in an hour, they should not be,” said Beck.

Beck is working with the county to raise awareness about the epidemic and to raise money for addicts seeking treatment.

“If it says one child or one mother the misery that I’ve gone through and heartache, then my son’s life was worth it, and it’s my purpose now,” said Beck.

The jail plan is still preliminary, and Lazarus says they’re working with the county’s attorney to see if the plan is possible.

The Horry County Sheriff’s Office runs the jail, and we asked whether the sheriff has a position on jailing people who overdose on Heroin.

A spokesperson gave us the following quote:

“The act of overdosing alone is not probable cause to detain an individual; however, this would require a change in South Carolina legislation and minimum standards would have to be adjusted by the South Carolina Department of Corrections.”

We’re working to find out what people would be charged with, how they would be treated as they detox, and who would pay for it.

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