Much like other parts of the country, heroin is a pretty big problem in Ithaca, New York. The only difference is how Mayor Svante Myrick is dealing with it. He’s launching a program that has never been done legally in the United States: giving the city’s addicts a safe place to do their thing.
This isn’t the first time this has ever been tried. In 1986 Switzerland gave it a shot and as a result, other programs sprung up in Europe and Australia. These safe zones provide clean needles and other supplies — for that safe heroin experience addicts crave.
The program works because there are supervisors there to look out for people overdosing and it lessens the chance of someone catching a disease, like HIV.
While there are complainers, the city does some people on their side, Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal plans to introduce a bill to make these sites legal statewide. And even the cops are down with the idea.
“This really is a medical crisis,” offers Police Chief John Barber. “It’s a crisis that I don’t believe we can arrest our way out of.”