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Virginia receives $596,000 in federal funds to combat opioid crisis

Virginia has received two federal grants totaling $596,000 to fight the prescription opioid and heroin abuse epidemic.

virginiaThe two grants come from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance. The grants will fund the development of a statewide plan focused on collaboration and enhanced data sharing between criminal justice and health agencies and will create a model to quickly identify and respond to specific areas with spikes in opioid use and overdoses. The funding will be administered by the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS).

“The opioid and heroin addiction crisis continues to impact our communities and take too many lives,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Joint solutions between public safety and public health are imperative to ending this terrible epidemic. These grants will build upon the strong interagency collaborative effort that Secretaries Moran and Hazel have led to reduce addiction and address the devastating impact opioids and heroin have had on our communities.”

The Technology Innovation for Public Safety grant of $496,000 will fund the development of a model for multi-agency data sharing that will enable agencies to better understand and respond to the opioid crisis. DCJS will work with the Northern Shenandoah Substance Abuse Coalition to develop a technology platform for data sharing.

“In our efforts to combat the opioid crisis, it is critical to increase the capacity for local law enforcement and health agencies to share data and information,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran.  “Through these data sharing efforts we will be able to identify and rapidly respond to areas of high opioid use and related crimes like burglary and prescription fraud.”

In partnership with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services(DBHDS), DCJS will use $100,000 in grant funds to develop a cross-system statewide plan to engage individuals in treatment for opioid addiction early in their involvement with the criminal justice system. The grant was made available through the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.

“The earlier we can respond to opioid abuse, the more lives we can save,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel.  “Early intervention requires close cooperation between medical professionals, treatment providers, and law enforcement officers at the local level. If we all work together to get a person into treatment, that person will have a better chance of recovery.”

“The plan will focus on expanding the use of alternatives to incarceration, including pretrial services,” said Fran Ecker, Director of DCJS.  “The goal is to expand the use of alternatives to incarceration for individuals with substance misuse disorders that come to the attention of the criminal justice system.”

“This grant will enable us to coordinate an in-depth analysis of gaps in treatment for justice-involved individuals,” said Dr. Jack Barber, DBHDS Interim Commissioner. “The plan will focus on connecting local community service boards and community-based treatment providers with pretrial services programs and other alternatives to incarceration.”

This funding continues the efforts of the Governor’s Task Force on Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse.