Scroll To Top

Texas Needle-Swap
Activists Face Charges

Texas Needle-Swap
Activists Face Charges

Police plan to seek drug paraphernalia charges against three activists who were caught operating their own needle-exchange program.

Police plan to seek drug paraphernalia charges against three San Antonio, Texas, activists who were caught operating their own needle-exchange program.

Bill Day, a cofounder of the nonprofit group Bexar Area Harm Reduction Coalition, and board members Mary Casey and Melissa Lujan were initially cited January 5 with possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.

A police officer spotted the three parked at a corner ''with several known prostitutes and drug addicts next to the vehicle,'' according to a police report. Day told the officer he was offering clean hypodermic needles in exchange for dirty ones, the report said. Police confiscated the clean needles, left the group with the dirty needles, and cited them.

Assistant Police Chief David Head said his department plans to refile the case this week with the Bexar County prosecutor's office with a charge of distribution of paraphernalia, which carries a punishment of up to a year in jail.

''These are enormously decent, charitable people, and what's happening with them smacks of persecution,'' said Neel Lane, one of the attorneys representing the coalition.

The citations come as Bexar County health officials wait for a state attorney general's opinion on legislation passed last year authorizing the county to pilot a needle-exchange program. District Attorney Susan Reed has warned local officials that the legislation doesn't shield participants from drug paraphernalia laws.

Head said if the pilot program moves forward, the law would allow only the county's health authority to run a syringe-exchange program, and not a private group such as Day's.

Day has been open about his group's work. ''Our volunteers regard their involvement as a Christian ministry work intended to alleviate egregious suffering and improve the lives of the least among us,'' he said. ''The statement and actions of the district attorney have brought all needle exchange activities to a halt. As a result, we can expect transmission of hepatitis and HIV to increase.''

Advocates of needle-exchange programs said they are key to reducing the rates of AIDS and HIV infections, and cut down on the transmission of other diseases such as hepatitis. Opponents counter that the programs promote drug use. (AP)

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Channel Promotion

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Be sure to follow Advocate on your favorite social platforms!


Want more news, top stories, and videos? Check out the all NEW Advocate Channel!
Your 24/7 streaming source for equality news and lifestyle trends.
Click this link right now:

Latest Stories