Prosecuting Opioid Use, Punishing Rurality
25 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2019
Date Written: November 1, 2019
The opioid crisis spotlights rural communities, and accompanying that bright light are long-standing, traditional biased tropes about backwards and backwoods White Appalachians. These stereotypes conflate rurality with substance use disorder as the next progression in dehumanizing stereotypes. Widespread attention to our nation’s use disorder crisis, however, also brings an opportunity to recognize these fallacious stereotypes and to look more closely at the criminal legal systems in rural communities. In this Article, I use drug-induced homicide — what has become a popular prosecutorial charge in response to the opioid crisis — as a prism to identify and critique the failings in rural criminal courts more broadly. This Article includes modest recommendations that acknowledge and respond to these inadequacies while attempting to preserve people’s constitutional rights and decrease opiate-related overdoses.
Keywords: rural, criminal, justice, opioid, crisis, overdose, courts, drug-induced homicide, prosecution
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