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Addiction in Franklin County

Local judge describes heroin cases flooding court

Recorder/Paul Franz
Greenfield District Court Judge William Mazanec in his chambers

Recorder/Paul Franz Greenfield District Court Judge William Mazanec in his chambers

GREENFIELD — In his past five years on the bench, Judge William Mazanec, first justice of the Greenfield District Court, has seen the prevalence of heroin addiction take over the community.

“Although the size of the crowd tells us the nature of the problem,” Mazanec said, “I already knew it.”

Previously, most people coming through the Franklin County court system came as a result of alcohol problems. Now, they come due to heroin addiction, Mazanac told a crowd of more than 200 people at Greenfield Community College Monday.

Mazanec, a former longtime prosector, was one of 14 law and public safety officials who spoke at the first Opioid Education and Awareness Task Force of the Franklin, Hampshire and Quabbin Regions forum to address an increase in heroin addiction in the area.

The elephant in the room was the lack of educational outreach to young people, Mazanec said.

“We need to address education,” Mazanec said. “It is starting when they are 17 years old. The juvenile brain is vulnerable to be susceptible to addiction.”

One of the growing trends Mazanec sees among people using opiates is their youth. The people standing before him in court are not 30 and 35 years old, but 18 to 22 years old.

Mazanec stressed the need for a collaborative effort between legislators, law enforcement, school superintendents and principals to start educating students early on about anti-drug use.

“It’s happening to wealthy families, to poor families. It doesn’t know any boundaries,” Mazanec said.

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