Congressman Looks to Stop Hudson Valley Heroin Epidemic
On Monday, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney was joined in Poughkeepsie by Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro, Dutchess County DA Bill Grady, and Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison to introduce federal legislation to combat the opioid and heroin epidemic and stop mass incarceration of abusers and low-level drug offenders.
Congressman Maloney's intent is to allow law enforcement to use their discretion to divert individuals directly to treatment instead of booking them and processing them through the criminal justice system. The programs funded by this initiative will give police officers the flexibility they need to help curb the growing opioid epidemic, decrease low-level drug crimes such as shoplifting, and reduce the number of low-level drug arrests.
The Keeping Communities Safe Through Treatment Act would award grants, funded through the Department of Justice Programs, to assist law enforcement agencies in providing pre-booking diversion programs developed with local drug treatment programs and local prosecutors to address low-level drug crimes. The program would allow for police discretion to redirect low-level offenders engaged in drug activity to community-based services instead of jail and prosecution.
According to Maloney, "there is no silver bullet solution, but working together with County Executive Molinaro, Mayor Rolison, our local law enforcement, prosecutors, and community leaders, we can make sure those on the frontlines have the support they need to expand prevention and treatment efforts, get drugs off our streets, and keep our children safe."
Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro, touting the county's new Stabilization Center, applauded the proposal by saying "this legislation, if enacted, would provide critical support and resources for Dutchess County's ongoing efforts to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic in our community, as well as to continue with our efforts to divert individuals from entering the criminal justice system."