Buffalo, NY recently opened the first opioid drug intervention court in the United States as their latest step towards fighting back against the opioid epidemic that has already claimed thousands of lives across the nation.
Police officers in the city say that they’ve seen a noticeable increase in both drug use and overdoses in the past few years. People arrested on opiate charges will be sent to this court where the charges will be put on hold while they undergo drug intervention and treatment for their addiction. Once their treatment is complete, they still face charges, but they could be reduced or even dropped completely depending on the situation.
“We learned a lot from the 70s and 80s when they just locked everyone up instead of trying to get them to treatment, because if you lock people up they still have the drug problem when they get out,” Judge Craig D. Hannah, who oversees the court, said in an interview with VICE News.
Judge Hannah said that his philosophy is influenced by his own struggles with drug addiction, and that he focuses his efforts on keeping those participating in this program alive rather than behind bars. His court receives its funding from a Department of Justice grant that was set up during the Obama administration. The hope is that support will continue to increase following the current administration’s recent declaration that the opioid crisis is a national emergency, but no concrete plans appear to be in place.
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