“I want them to have another sunset, another time with family,
to see another Christmas.”

This is the hope that Judge Craig Hannah has for the defendants that come before him on a daily basis in Buffalo New York’s new opioid crisis intervention court. This new drug court model provides access to immediate assessment and referral for treatment for addicted nonviolent offenders. This is something that is not available to offenders in traditional drug courts.

Access to recovery is vital for heroin and opioid addicts. Addicted criminal offenders in traditional drug courts often have to wait weeks for treatment options to become available. Over and over again, they are waiting for treatment options while in jail or on probation without access to treatment and services that will help them stay clean. Judge Hannah believes that offenders may “have every intention of staying clean but, …people are going to slip up.” He says, “you can’t lock up an addiction, because the addiction is still there”.

Increasing drug treatment within the criminal justice system is seen as a path to reducing drug related crimes and will help in the reduction of the number of drug related deaths due to heroin and opioid addiction.

 

To learn more about NPR’s October 5th piece on Buffalo New York’s opioid crisis intervention court visit:  To Save Opioid Addicts, This Experimental Court is Ditching the Delays

Photo credit: Carolyn Thompson/AP

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