Bipartisan Opioid Task Force Holds Roundtable, “Smart Solutions: Protecting Our Communities” on Intersection of Opioid Crisis and the Criminal Justice System
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force, led by Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), hosted a roundtable discussion, “Smart Solutions: Protecting Our Communities” on the intersection of the opioid crisis and the criminal justice system. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Jim Carroll participated in the discussion and provided opening remarks to give an update on the Administration’s efforts and progress to address our nation’s opioid crisis. The Bipartisan Opioid Task Force regularly holds roundtable discussions – in July, the taskforce co-chairs held a roundtable on the threat posed by fentanyl and synthetic opioids. A video of the roundtable can be found here.
The Task Force was joined by:
- Jim Carroll, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy
- Helen E. Hanks, MM., Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Corrections
- John Ammons, Customs and Border Protections Office of Field Operations
- Fred Harran, Director of Public Safety at Bensalem Police Department
- Timothy McDermott, Assistant Administrator of the Diversion Control Division at the Drug Enforcement Agency
- Members of Congress
“The opioid and substance abuse crisis has had a devastating impact on communities throughout New Hampshire and the country,” said Kuster. “In my conversations with members of law enforcement, public safety officials and public health experts, it has become clear that serious reforms are necessary to ensure our criminal justice system effectively contributes to efforts to combat the substance abuse epidemic. We must break the revolving door of addiction and incarceration and that means expanding access to treatment and recovery services behind bars. I appreciate the perspective of the participants in today’s roundtable and look forward to working with law enforcement and healthcare providers to curb the spread of this crisis.”
“I appreciate everyone attending today’s event. It is crucial that lawmakers and law enforcement stay on the same page to best combat the opioid epidemic,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “This epidemic touches every part of our lives, and we need to continue this discussion to find bipartisan solutions to help Americans. I am proud to work with Rep. Kuster to see this through.”
Kuster has advocated for reforms to help reduce recidivism and expand access to healthcare and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for incarcerated individuals. In July, Kuster visited the Cheshire County Department of Corrections to discuss MAT programming for inmates and pre-trial detainees.
The Bipartisan Opioid Task Force has been a driver of Congressional action to take on the opioid crisis. In addition to the policies included in the comprehensive opioid package, the Task Force successfully passed the VA Prescription Data Accountability Act, the INTERDICT Act and the Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act. The Task Force also successfully pushed for the inclusion of $1 billion in funding as part of the 21st Century Cures Act to address the opioid epidemic and helped advance $6 billion in new opioid funding as part of the FY 2018 government funding bill.