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Legislation Targets Out-Of-State Drug Dealers

Evan Rushing
NPR Illinois
Evan Rushing in a framed photo carried by his mother, Janice, last week at the Illinois Capitol.

The Illinois General Assembly has approved legislation intended to make it easier to hold drug dealers accountable when their customers overdose.

After eight years in the Army, Evan Rushing had PTSD. One day last year, he drove to St. Louis to buy heroin. It was a bad batch; he overdosed and died.

Evan’s mother, Janice, says police identified the dealer who sold the drugs. But prosecutors couldn’t charge him with drug-induced homicide, because Rushing bought the heroin in Missouri.

“There’s nothing worse than knowing that person is walking the streets and could do this again,” Janice Rushing says. “But now he can’t.”

The legislation won broad support in the General Assembly, with an emotional Rushing watching the vote.

But the strategy of fighting drug use by prosecuting drug dealers has pitfalls. Studies show witnesses may not call 911 for an overdose because they fear being prosecuted themselves.

In Illinois, anti-drug laws have exceptions to encourage people to report overdoses.

Tom reports on statehouse issues for NPR Illinois. He's currently a Public Affairs Reporting graduate program student at the University of Illinois Springfield. He graduated from Macalester College. Tom is from New York City where he also did stand-up and improv and wrote for the Awl and WNYC public radio.
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