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Franklin and Hampshire counties get money to fight opioid abuse



For The Recorder
Saturday, June 24, 2017

Franklin and Hampshire counties will receive a combined $339,000 to continue their battle against the opioid epidemic.

Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito announced Thursday that $2.3 million in federal grants will be awarded to district attorneys, sheriffs, and other criminal justice agencies to help strengthen and enhance efforts to combat heroin and opioid abuse in Massachusetts, including prevention, intervention, diversion, enforcement and treatment, according to the governor’s office.

“These law enforcement organizations have valuable experience in providing treatment to individuals looking to get back on their feet and work beyond their addiction,” Baker said in a statement. “We look forward to seeing them sustain the progress they are making in their communities, providing a powerful, positive impact to those in need of recovery services.”

The Northwestern district attorney’s office will receive $86,860 to use toward its Drug Diversion and Treatment Program.

“This grant gives us the resources to run our diversion and treatment program,” District Attorney David Sullivan said in an email statement. “Diverting addicted persons from the criminal justice system and into treatment is the best approach to the opioid epidemic.”

The diversion program is for nonviolent offenders who have a substance use disorder and are charged with certain drug-related crimes. It offers drug treatment in lieu of prosecution.

Started in 2016, the program is in all four district courts covered by the Northwestern district attorney’s office. From February 2016 to February 2017, 46 people entered the program out of the 667 people initially screened, according to the office’s grant proposal application.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Department will use its $133,000 to focus on treatment efforts.

The money will be used to “fully implement an evidence-based Re-Entry Program for Adults with co-occuring substance abuse and mental health disorders,” according to the department’s grant proposal application.

The Hampshire Sheriff’s Department has been awarded $120,812 for its treatment program.

Sheriff Patrick J. Cahillane said the funds will be used for its “Bridge to the Future Re-Entry Program” which is a transition program to “reduce recidivism by expanding the services more into the community.”