DRCNetDrug Reform Coordination Network

5/1/97

ALERT: Santa Cruz Needle Exchange Facing Arrests (5/1/97)

DRCNet has received the following alert from the Harm Reduction Coalition and the North American Syringe Exchange Network. We are asking our members and supporters to write letters in support of the Santa Cruz Needle Exchange Program. Please keep in mind that the city of Santa Cruz has been very supportive of the program for years, so it is important that letters at this point be moderate and respectful. Please also keep in mind that the program does not want to make this a media issue yet, hence we have not provided letter to the editor information. Lastly, remember that the issues at hand are needle exchange and AIDS prevention, not broader drug policy reform.

We have updated the Reformer's Calendar today, but are not distributing it on the list, in order to keep the list volume manageable for the largest number of people. It can be viewed at <http://www.drcnet.org/calendar.html>. If you don't have web access, write to us at drcnet@drcnet.org and we will send you the calendar by e-mail.

Alert follows:

Volunteer workers for the Santa Cruz Needle Exchange Program have been cited on four different occasions in the recent past. Twice in December, once in February and once in March, workers have been cited with misdemeanors syringe possession charges. As a consequence of these actions and on-going police pressure including confiscation of supplies, exchange services have been cut back from seven days a week to three and major, long-existing sites have had to close. The lives of people who inject drugs and the people with whom they share their lives are being placed in jeopardy every second this interruption of services continues.

Santa Cruz Needle Exchange Program is well established, opening in 1989, and has operated under a County State of Emergency Order since 1995 with no prior incidents of repression by the local authorities. Negotiations with local law enforcement concerning these cites have been taking place but pressure now needs to be applied to local elected officials. At this point this is not a media campaign. The exchange program wants to reintroduce exchange services with the minimum amount of fuss. We need the Mayor of Santa Cruz to know that we're following this situation and that she has support of the public health/syringe exchange community. Two of the cites have not gone anywhere because of police incompetence. The third person charged is facing either an onerous probation situation or will take the trial option. We need to have all the cases dropped with no further action.

Your letter of support for the Santa Cruz Needle Exchange Program should be addressed to the Mayor and cc'd to the others on the list. Your swift action can make a difference. For further info contact the exchange at:

SCNEP@got.net

Send letters to:

And if you have the resources also the members of the Board of Supervisors:

and City Council Members:

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