Grants awarded to fight opioid epidemic in Hampshire, Franklin counties

  • Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan

  • Hampshire County SheriffPatrick Cahillane

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Hampshire and Franklin counties will receive a combined $340,672 to continue their battle against the opioid epidemic.

Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced June 22 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 a statement emailed to the Gazette. “Diverting addicted persons from the criminal justice system and into treatment is the best approach to the opioid epidemic.”

The diversion program is for non-violent 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 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.”

“We believe that close supervision of those individuals who are opioid dependent and are preparing for release is important so we’ve tailored the program for that,” Cahillane said. “I believe in this program. It is one that I was very invested with when I got it started.”

The money will be used to fund the position of a treatment manager as well as an electronic monitor supervisor as all program participants are on GPS monitoring. The treatment manager is tasked with structuring the treatment plan for each individual who lives at the “Bridge to the Future,” according to Cahillane.

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.

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.