State legislators set priorities for 2020

Economic development and promoting trades education are on state Rep. Chris Sainato’s list of 2020 priorities.

A $149,525 grant will bring an important treatment resource to Lawrence County Jail inmates struggling with opioid use disorder, state Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence, announced Monday.

Sainato said the grant, which is funded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, will expand a program that is already working successfully at the state level.

“Medication-Assisted Treatment — an evidence-based program that treats substance use disorder as a chronic disease — has been shown to produce lasting benefits,” Sainato said. “If we’re going to successfully attack the opioid and heroin addiction crisis in our region, then we can’t overlook the importance of making this treatment available in our jails, where a disproportionately large number of inmates suffer from drug use disorders.

“Securing this funding also means that we can help combat the destructive effects of opioid use on those transitioning from jail to the community. Studies show that 40-50% of formerly incarcerated individuals with an opioid use disorder are arrested for a new crime within a year after their release. Their relapses damage entire families and communities and burden the taxpayers forced to support them.

“This funding will allow us to attack the opioid use problem with a program that has already proven successful on the state level, so I’m glad we’re now bringing these resources to our county.”

The funding is part of package of $1.2 million in grants to nine county jails, which will partner with the state Department of Corrections, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and Commission on Crime and Delinquency to implement the programs at the local level.

The grants are part of the $55.9 million federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant awarded to bolster the state’s response to the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic.

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