TRENTON – Senator Ronald L. Rice today released the following statement regarding what he described as the ‘unfortunate’ but expected approval of the needle exchange legislation in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
“I’d like to make it clear to the public, the media and especially my colleagues that free needles will not positively impact our State. In fact, this measure will do nothing to decrease the number of people who die each year. There is a clear-direct-link between drugs, gangs and guns. Easy access to needles will create a greater demand for heroin and other intravenous drugs, which will increase the number of suicides, homicides and murders. By putting needles on the streets we are giving the gangs more reasons to kill. We can not put the lives of one group of people over another. We need to save as many lives as we can and treatment and education are ways to do it.
“I want to encourage those in the Legislature to continue to research all the information, and to look at who is conducting the studies carefully. There is too much self-reporting by organizations that are pushing for needle exchange legislation throughout the country. All of the facts are not being presented, and there are still a lot of questions that have yet to be raised and answered.
“A miscalculation based on contradictory information with no sound basis for it, and a wrong vote could create an unintended destruction of a class of people over time, namely women and minorities.
“We are all being ‘duped’ by pro-needle groups, and they are spreading lies and misinformation. New Jersey is NOT the only State without a needle exchange law. Not every State has a needle exchange law; in fact, most do not. Not every city in the few States with legal syringe access programs actually give out free needles. Many places that do operate needle exchange programs do so illegally. It’s interesting to point out that some programs that were started in other States have stopped, but because of self-reporting we simply do not know why the programs are no longer active.
“Those who testified in the committees about needle exchange made it clear that the methods for evaluating the results are NOT scientific. Instead, the results are mathematical and based on many assumptions. Self-reporting, self-serving data does not prove that free needles will stop the spread of AIDS. In fact, in one study that did give out needles to a controlled group, the number of those with AIDS increased, while the non-control group decreased.
“The Center for Disease Control refused to accept any further data from the State of Maryland regarding Baltimore’s program because of fraudulent reporting.
“The spread of AIDS is diminishing in New Jersey and we have not given out a single needle. We will make a bigger difference and save more lives through education and treatment. Unfortunately, during Governor Codey’s administration, there was a promise by Commissioner Fred Jacobs, of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services to start public awareness campaigns but I have not seen a single billboard, I haven’t seen an ad on a bus, and I haven’t heard any commercials on the radio educating residents about preventing the spread of AIDS.
“We need to increase the number of detox beds that are available for those residents who currently are turned away daily from programs that do not have enough beds, or support for their treatments.
“When I speak about the negative impact of a syringe access program and who will be affected by them, I am called a racist. That is only because I am willing to stand up to those who are distorting the truth about what will really happen if such legislation becomes law. I will not be quieted, and I will not be swayed away from the realities of the dangerous outcomes from needle exchange programs. I will not be influenced by the powerful political forces of the Legislature or the Governor in my fight to stop bad legislation.
“Heroin is hitting the streets in our cities at close to 100% purity and overdosing is taking place throughout New Jersey. I don’t need to list every story, but I did find one news account to be very interesting. An Elizabeth pharmacy owner allegedly defrauded Medicare out of more than $2.8 million by selling unsuspecting customers black-market prescription drugs. With needles on the street, it seems likely that the same problem will occur. What scares me is that the needles that may be sold to unsuspecting consumers may not be new, but instead be simply bleached needles that could still be tainted with AIDS.
“Every day there are stories that show how crimes are linked to drugs. We need to do something to decrease the amount of drugs on the streets– not add more drug users. I am ready to argue on the floor of the Senate how dangerous needle exchange really will be in New Jersey.”