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URGENT: Prosecutors Targeting NJ Needle Exchange Program

The Chai Project, a needle exchange program in New Brunswick, NJ (the state's only such program, and a fellow grantee of the Drug Policy Foundation), has been warned that the New Jersey Attorney General may seek arrests of its volunteers. Needle exchange programs are the most important component of strategies to reduce the spread of HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) among injection drug users, their present and future sex partners, and the offspring of all of the above. Nearly half of all new AIDS cases in 1994 were related to injection drug use. This threat to the Chai Project's operations comes in the wake of a strong stand by the Governor's Council on AIDS in favor of needle exchange programs, accompanied by substantial favorable publicity within the state.

The evidence overwhelming favors needle exchange. Major reports by the Centers for the Disease Control, the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, as well as internal reviews conducted (and then suppressed) by the Clinton Administration all concluded that needle exchange programs significantly reduce the spread of HIV and that they do not lead to or encourage higher levels of drug use in their communities. A policy of arresting needle exchange workers is a "pro-AIDS" policy that will increase the spread of AIDS without reducing the drug problem. (Information on needle exchange, including the full text of some of the major research on the subject, can be found on the world- wide-web at http://www.drcnet.org/needle-exchange.)

Please write to New Jersey's Office of the Attorney General and urge them to let the needle exchange workers continue their crucial work without state interference. Ask them to instead support legislation to decriminalize the sale and possession of needles. Even though this issue falls under New Jersey's jurisdiction, it is such a pivotal issue and case that we are asking everyone to write letters. Address your letters to:

Please also send a copy to:

If you are from New Jersey, please also send a copy to your state Senator and Assemblymember. There is a listing of them on the web, with addresses and phone numbers, at http://www.state.nj.us/infobank/legis.htm (only two of them have e-mail addresses). Or you can get that information from the State House at (609) 292-5135.

It's always best to write your own letter. But if you don't have time, energy or concentration for that, feel free to use this one:

March __, 1996

Deborah T. Poritz, Esq.
Office of the Attorney General
Department of Law and Public Safety
CN 080
Trenton, NJ 08625

Dear Ms. Poritz:

It has come to my attention that your office is considering taking legal action against the Chai Project, the organization conducting needle exchange in Middlesex County. I am writing to urge you to refrain from such action. The evidence is overwhelming, not only that needle exchange programs are highly effective for reducing the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, but that they are urgently needed and do not lead to higher levels of drug use in the communities where they operate. Nearly half of all new AIDS cases in 1994 were due to sharing of injection equipment. The victims are not only drug injectors, but also their present and future sexual partners, those persons' future partners, and the yet-to-be-born children of all of the above. An anti-needle exchange policy is a pro- AIDS policy. It is the worst form of intrusive government, most strange for an administration that characterizes itself as favoring small government. Instead of targeting the needle exchange workers, I suggest you support legislation to decriminalize needle sale and possession.


Your Name

Information on needle exchange programs is available on the world-wide-web at http://www.drcnet.org/needle-exchange.

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