I’m pleased to report that I followed up this morning’s blog post regarding HB 457 with an email to State Rep. Antani. I sent him a link to the post and an invitation to visit with one or both of the classes of social work students I have this semester. He responded very promptly and although the location of his district is likely to keep him from getting to Cleveland any time soon, I’m hoping he’ll provide information on others ways in which the students (and anyone else) can offer input as the policy hopefully evolves.
Many thanks to folks who commented on the Facebook status update on this topic and in particular those who have direct experience and/or knowledge of how the drug courts are managing. You can read the impressive numbers for the Cleveland program here and for the County here and here. Note the length of the programs – HB 457 is about 30 day mandatory treatment, with no funding from the state. The Cleveland programs average 12-20 months. Much to consider if we’re going to craft it to work it. We know levies focused on treatment (they were health and human services levies) did very well on the November 2017 ballot.
There is a desperate need for solutions to substance abuse issues, opioid and other. But the authority for elected officials to criminalize whatever behavior they so choose is a power that should be used sparingly. If the threat of incarceration i.e., criminalizing substance abuse behavior is going to be legislated in order to get people into treatment, let’s make sure people who are on the front line of working in treatment are a big part of the policy crafting.