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Opioid Crisis Correctly Identified as Health Emergency

Austin, TX— Right on Crime, the national conservative criminal justice reform organization, today praised the Trump administration’s decision to declare the United States’ severe opioid crisis a “national health emergency.”  Treating drug addicts only like criminals has proven counterproductive.

States have moved to refer opioid cases to drug courts and offered deferred sentences combined with treatment to improve outcomes while avoiding  overcrowding jails.

“Severe sentences for people with opioid addiction are particularly dangerous. While they are incarcerated, opioid addicts’ tolerance for the drug goes down, but their addiction doesn’t change. This lowered tolerance and persistent addiction is a perfect recipe for overdose and death once they have access to opioids again. Congress should look to the successful drug sentencing reforms in the states for guidance to re-examine federal guidelines,” said Pat Nolan, Director of the American Conservative Union Foundation Center for Criminal Justice Reform.

According the Administration, the number of drug overdose deaths is expected to exceed 64,000 people; that is a rate of about 175 deaths per day.

“We applaud the administration for recognizing the heavy toll that the opioid crisis continues to take on American families and making the implementation of effective solutions a top priority. This declaration creates new opportunities to spread proven prevention and treatment models across the country that will save lives and strengthen the fabric of our nation,” said Marc Levin, Policy Director of Right on Crime.

Right on Crime is a national campaign of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, in partnership with the American Conservative Union Foundation and Justice Fellowship that supports fighting crime, prioritizing victims, and protecting taxpayers. The movement to reform underperforming and wasteful criminal justice programs had its origins in Texas in 2005. Its success has been duplicated and continues to serve as a model for effective policies around the country.

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