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Augusta County receives $600K to combat opioid, substance abuse

Augusta CountyThe Augusta County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office has received $600,000 from the Department of Justice to help develop efforts to identify, treat, and support those affected by the illicit use of opioids and other drugs through the office’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program.

The funding is through the Bureau of Justice’s Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Site-based Program that assists local governments in their response to and disruption of the criminal patterns associated with drug abuse that impact the safety and wellbeing of communities.

“We are grateful for this grant that will enable us to coordinate services across our local public health, behavioral health and public safety agencies and providers to not only treat Substance Use Disorder but also give those affected the services to support other areas of their lives as they move away from drugs and criminal behavior,” says Caleb Kramer, assistant commonwealth’s attorney, who is responsible for implementing the program.

The grant will fund a new case management program which will connect higher risk offenders with community resources prior to them being charged. The first priority of use for the three-year grant will be to hire a full-time project manager whose job will be to integrate with local organizations and coordinate the services that are needed.

These needs might include collaboration for services with shelters, career services groups, counselors, drug treatment centers, and vocational services.

“Case managers will be instrumental in ensuring immediate intervention, right after arrest for example, as well as continuity of care which, evidence shows, are critical to offenders’ long-term success,” Kramer said.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office has demonstrated significant success with its current LEAD program, the Pre-charge Diversion and Litter Control Program, which diverts first-time, low level offenders to community service and requires them to remain charge free and drug free and to participate in interventions.

“The Litter Control Program has shown that the ability to coordinate with community stakeholders across various service areas can deliver meaningful results on a very limited budget,” Kramer said.

The expanded LEAD project will include partnerships between the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office, Blue Ridge Court Services, Valley Community Services Board, Blue Ridge Criminal Justice Board, and the Institute for Reform and Solutions.