Sessions and DOJ announce major grants to fight opioid epidemic (video)

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The Department of Justice announced on Friday that $58.8 million has been earmarked in an effort to strengthen drug court programs and address the nationwide opioid epidemic.

Drug overdose deaths are on the rise. In 2015, 52,000 Americans died in drug-related incidents, and in 2016, that number rose to nearly 60,000. The majority of these deaths can be attributed to opioids, including fentanyl and oxycontin. While the opioid epidemic is certainly a public health crisis, it is also a public safety crisis; and it’s only getting worse.

“Today, we are facing the deadliest drug crisis in American history,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday. “These trends are shocking and the numbers tell us a lot– but they aren’t just numbers.  They represent moms and dads, brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends. And make no mistake, combatting this poison is a top priority for President Trump and his administration, and you can be sure that we are taking action to address it.  Today, we are announcing that we will be awarding millions in federal grants to help law enforcement and public health agencies address prescription drug and opioid abuse.  This is an urgent problem and we are making it a top priority.”

Approximately $24 million in federal grants will be awarded to 50 cities, counties and public health departments to provide financial and technical assistance to state, local, and tribal governments to create comprehensive diversion and alternatives to incarceration programs for those impacted by the opioid epidemic.

Awarded under the Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program, the funding also included money from the Harold Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. This program helps regulatory, law enforcement, and public health agencies address prescription drug and opioid misuse. In addition, their efforts reduce crime and save lives.

Another $3.1 million will be awarded by the National Institute of Justice for research and evaluation on drugs and crime. The research priorities are heroin and other opioids, as well as synthetic drugs.

The department is also awarding more than $22.2 million to 53 jurisdictions to support the implementation and enhancement of adult drug courts and Veterans Treatment Courts, which serve as “one-stop-shops” to link veterans with services, benefits and program providers, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Service Organizations and volunteer veteran mentors.

Specific sites and funds awarded can be found online. CLICK HERE TO SEE LIST OF CITIES..

The department is also awarding more than $9.5 million under several Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention grant programs, including the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Grant Program and the Family Drug Court Statewide System Reform Implementation Program. These programs help jurisdictions build effective family drug treatment courts, and ensure current juvenile drug treatment courts follow established guidelines.

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