Court system getting Justice Dept. grant to combat drugs
Efforts by courts in New York state to prevent recidivism by convicted drug offenders will soon be getting a financial boost from the federal government, according to U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan, who said the U.S. Department of Justice is stepping up funding for programs that work to combat the country’s growing opioid crisis.
Donovan (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn-Staten Island) recently announced that the New York State Unified Court System will receive $797,784 in grants from the Dept. of Justice’s Adult Drug and Veterans Treatment Courts (VTC) Discretionary Grant Programs.
The funding is intended to provide resources to help prevent recidivism by drug-addicted offenders, including military veterans, Donovan said. The VTC program recognizes that veterans experiencing ailments like post-traumatic stress disorder because of their sacrifices defending our country deserve assistance, he said.
“How our justice system treats those struggling with addiction, including veterans returning from service, has a major impact on recidivism. Those who violate our laws must face consequences, but jails aren’t drug treatment centers. Drug courts and veterans’ treatment courts recognize that addicts can rehabilitate themselves and return as contributing members of society. These programs save money and lives,” Donovan said in a statement.
Donovan is the former district attorney of Staten Island.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the grants will assist communities across the country in implementing preventative measures to save the lives of people addicted to opioids.
“Confronting this epidemic is one of the Department of Justice’s top priorities. These grant awards have primarily been directed to states and communities hardest hit by the opioid epidemic who are experiencing significant increases in the number of overdose deaths and non-fatal overdoses,” Sessions said in a statement.
Donovan said that since he first came to Congress in 2015, he has advocated for federal programs to support local treatment, education and enforcement programs.
In 2016, Donovan backed the 21st Century Cures Act, a law that dedicated $1 billion in grants for local substance abuse programs.
Earlier this year, Donovan supported a budget agreement that called for a $650 million increase in funding for opioid abuse programs. Donovan also sponsored the Comprehensive Fentanyl Control Act, which would increase criminal penalties for fentanyl traffickers.
The majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of 10) involve an opioid, according to information on the website of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cdc.gov.
Since 1999, the number of overdose deaths in the U.S. involving opioids, including prescription drugs and heroin, has quadrupled.
Here are more grim statistics: From 2000 to 2015 more than 500,000 people died from drug overdoses and 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.
The amount of prescription opioids sold to pharmacies, hospitals and at doctors’ offices nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2010, according to the CDC.
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