More help or more charges? Discussion on manslaughter for overdose deaths.

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – As drug overdoses continue to increase during the pandemic, there’s been talk about how to lower those numbers.

“We have really, as a community, paid the price here,” says Clark County Attorney William Elkins.

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Elkins says the number of drug overdose deaths in the county has increased since the pandemic began.”Since March, we’ve probably lost 35 people – maybe as many as 40,” Elkins says.

Elkins says the cause is depression related to the coronavirus, loneliness and access to stimulus money from months ago.

“Today, we’re confronted with a more deadlier version of street drugs with this heroine and fentanyl.”

All of this is why Elkins says he’s glad, in recent years, Kentucky has imposed manslaughter charges for people who sell drugs if it leads to an overdose death.

“It’s just another way that we can attack the drug trade in Clark County and protect lives,” Elkins says. “It’s not the best case scenario because at that point, we’re coming in after the fact.”

John Moses, team leader of Harm Reduction Services with the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department tries to prevent that situation. Like Elkins, he says there are record numbers of overdoses this year.

“We’re meeting people where they’re at and so we’re doing everything in our power to help protect them,” Moses says.

Moses agrees with Elkins, saying the main cause is the high distribution of fentanyl, but he disagrees with the increased charges.

“The more we criminalize drug behavior, be it using or selling of drugs, that will continue no matter what charges you bring,” Elkins says. “The market is just that ripe.”

Moses says the best tool to use is education. He urges everyone to get Narcan training, that’s a free 15-minute class to teach people how to reverse overdoses.

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