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The Jennifer Act is a Mother’s Love Letter to Her Deceased Daughter

Knowing your child is struggling with an addiction that is potentially lethal would be scary enough, but finding out you can’t help them would be enough to break the spirits of many parents. Sharon Blair found herself in this exact frightening position with her daughter, Jennifer. Blair explains on her website that Jennifer had battled drug addiction since she was 16 years old and Sharon attempted on a number of occasions to intervene using laws that allowed for involuntary admission into treatment. Unfortunately, in the state of Florida, where Sharon dealt with her daughter’s addiction issues, The Marchman and Baker Acts, only allow for a 72-hour court ordered treatment. This is barely enough time to allow for detox and is in no way long enough to get an addict the help they need. So Sharon only succeeded in periodically getting her daughter a few sober days because her hands were tied by state law.

The Jennifer Act is Successfully Adopted in Indiana

Sadly, Sharon’s daughter Jennifer lost her fight against addiction on January15, 2009 after a drug overdose. To Sharon’s credit, even after Jennifer’s death she has continued to push for changes to current legislation in the hopes of saving the lives of other individuals like her daughter in the future. After a lot of hard work, Sharon was able to get the state of Indiana to adopt her ideas into legislation early in 2012. Now she has her sites set back on Florida, the state where her daughter passed, to implement The Jennifer Act some time in 2013.

Intended Changes from the Jennifer Act to Current Laws in Many States

The Jennifer Act aims to attack the problem of addiction gone untreated from a number of different angles currently ignored in most states. Here are the highlights of the proposed legislation:

  • Reduction of the current $400 filing fees that may be an obstacle for some families to be able to help their loved one
  • Expand the number of days an individual can be retained in involuntary treatment. The current 72-hour timeline is far too short to help most addicts
  • Streamline communication and treatment with law enforcement and the court system
  • Offer both secular and faith-based treatment options
  • Provide appropriate housing for addicts in treatment

  • Offer successful alternative options for addicts other than incarceration

What do you think of involuntary detainment and treatment for addicts past the current standard of 72 hours proposed in the Jennifer Act? Share your opinion below.

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