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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Me a Philadelphia nonprofit says it is opening the country's first facility where people can inject illegal drugs under medical supervision yesterday a District Court judge ruled that the site does not violate federal drug laws NPR's Bobby Allen reports after a two year legal battle leaders at the nonprofit called safe house are ready to open their doors to the first official supervised injection site in America it's a facility where those struggling with addiction bring their own drugs and use with trained medical staff standing by to prevent overdoses it's been used in Canada and Europe and has been shown to save lives Randgold fine lead safe house we have the highest death rate of any big city in America the twenty nineteen death rate is expected to surpass twenty eighteen and with numbers like these we are compelled to last the decision was from a U. S. district judge in Philadelphia who found in October that the site safe house are proposing are more like a medical facility than what prosecutors have called a crack house the judge has now made his order final it's a blow for the justice department which sued to try to block the site here's U. S. attorney bill McSwain speaking a year ago when he and the trump administration first filed their lawsuit aimed at stopping safe house is our folks have good intentions but we think that this step of opening an injection site is a step the crosses the line he's not alone in believing this at a tense press conference today safehouse said their first facility will be in South Philadelphia that was a surprise to neighbors there Leanne Salah off wasn't pleased you blindsided us yeah thank you our children there is a lot says she doesn't want to live next to a site that will have a steady stream of substance abusers coming in and out pardon and you were speaking about gold find of safe houses says three to four people die from fatal overdoses every day in Philadelphia she says they're supervised injection sites are taking public injecting off the streets and into a medical facility we understand that your children should never have to walk over people publicly consuming and the goal is if it's not outside than inside studies have shown that injection sites do drive down fatal overdoses in the vicinity around the facilities Philadelphia health officials estimate that twenty five to seventy six people could be saved each year with the opening of the injection spaces former Pennsylvania governor ed Rendell is a big supporter but even in its hands twenty five months it's worth it supporters say will also serve as a way to connect with treatment housing and other social services Leo Beletsky is a health and law expert at Northwestern University he studies harm reduction efforts like supervised injection sites he says other U. S. cities are watching one of the key arguments against advocates has been that the law is not settled and you know the legal implications are unclear well that argument just suffered a setback federal officials say they are evaluating all their options under the law they have already filed an appeal safehouse has volunteers at the ready including Rendell the former Pennsylvania governor expected to escort drug users to the site early