2021-06-30 12:16:35

Maya Schenwar’s Sister Died of an Overdose. She Says Defunding the Police Might Have Saved Her

As the U.S. marks 50 years since President Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs on June 17, 1971, we speak with journalist Maya Schenwar, editor-in-chief of the news website Truthout, whose sister Keeley died of a drug overdose in February 2020 at the age of 29.

Schenwar says her sister’s death came after “a long cycle of criminalization” that made her chances of recovery much harder. “She became so afraid of being rearrested,” says Schenwar, who notes that many drug users avoid seeking medical help because of the fear of police involvement and incarceration.

“Why are we supporting criminalization at the expense of people’s actual survival?” she asks. Drug overdoses have soared during the pandemic, causing over 92,000 deaths in the United States in the 12-month period ending in November — the most since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began keeping track over two decades ago.

Experts say the pandemic and the increasing availability of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl have contributed to the death toll.

Democracy Now! produces a daily, global, independent news hour hosted by award-winning journalists Amy Goodman and Juan González. lOur reporting includes breaking daily news headlines and in-depth interviews with people on the front lines of the world’s most pressing issues. 

On DN!, you’ll hear a diversity of voices speaking for themselves, providing a unique and sometimes provocative perspective on global events.

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Amy Goodman Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus Covid COVID-19 Democracy Now! Free Speech TV Maya Schenwar Overdose Pandemic Richard Nixon Truthout United States

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