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Measure to provide freed prisoners with naloxone advancing in Springfield

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(The Center Square) – Prisoners leaving an Illinois jail or prison may be sent away with opioid antagonists if lawmakers approve a new bill in Springfield.

The Illinois House recently passed House Bill 5527 that would provide naloxone to people leaving incarceration if they were behind bars for drug-related charges or have a substance abuse problem.

The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago, said studies have shown overdose is the leading cause of death for people recently released from incarceration. He said funds from Illinois’ share of the nationwide opioid settlement will cover the cost.

“Currently, many of our smaller counties are already mainly partnering with your local public health agencies to get this medication to the community,” said Slaughter.

State Rep. Patrick Windhorst, R-Metropolis, said the opioid settlement funds will eventually run out.

“If local funds are used such as the opioid settlement funds, what occurs when those funds are no longer there and years from now when the mandate still exists and funds may not be there,” said Windhorst.

State Rep. Bill Hauter, R-Morton, who is a doctor, said handing an antidote to a person who has a drug problem might not be effective.

“Let’s get it into the right hands and I’m not sure that the released inmate is the person you dispense this medication to,” said Hauter. “It’s really important that we dispense to someone that can rescue them.”

The measure passed out of the House by a 92 to 17 vote and now goes to the Senate for further consideration.