On the first day of National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, the Department of Justice announced it is awarding almost $320 million to combat the opioid crisis in America. The unprecedented funding will directly help those most impacted by the deadliest drug crisis in American history, including crime victims, children, families, and first responders.
“President Trump has made ending the opioid crisis a priority for this administration, and under his leadership, the Department of Justice has taken historic action,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “Today we are announcing our next steps: investing $320 million into all three parts of the President’s comprehensive plan to end the epidemic: prevention, treatment, and enforcement. We are attacking this crisis from every angle—and we will not let up until we bring it to an end.”
In 2017, more than 72,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses, an increase from the 64,000 overdose deaths in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The majority of these deaths can be attributed to opioids, including illicit fentanyl and its analogues. October marks two important anti-drug events: Red Ribbon Week and National Prescription Drug Takeback Day. Red Ribbon Week takes place every year between October 23-31 and encourages students, parents, schools, and communities to promote drug-free lifestyles. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on October 27 aims to provide an opportunity for Americans to prevent overdose deaths and drug addictions before they start. DOJ expanded on DEA’s Drug Takeback Days and collected more than 2.7 million pounds of expired or unused prescription drugs since April 2017.
The Attorney General has been resolute in the fight against the drug crisis in America. The Department assigned more than 300 federal prosecutors to U.S. Attorneys’ offices and hired more than 400 DEA task force officers, announced the formation of Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge, a new program to reduce the supply of deadly synthetic opioids in high impact areas, and created a new data analytics program called the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit to assist 12 prosecutors sent to drug “hot spot districts.” In addition, the Department charged more than 3,000 defendants with trafficking in heroin, fentanyl, or prescription drugs in FY 2017, announced the first-ever indictments of Chinese nationals for fentanyl trafficking, and scheduled variants of fentanyl to prevent illicit drug labs from circumventing the law. In addition, DOJ executed the largest ever health care fraud enforcement action charging more than 600 defendants and proposed rules consistent with President Trump’s “Safe Prescribing Plan,” requiring a reduction of ten percent in 2019 in manufacturing quotas. The Department dismantled AlphaBay, the largest criminal marketplace on the Internet and has already generated prosecutions in the fight against online drug trafficking through the Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement Team (J-CODE).
The approximately $320 million awarded by the Department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) will be distributed in order to maximize effectiveness over the country. A breakdown of the grant funding can be found here.
- Innovative Prosecution Solutions for Combating Violent Crime and Opioid Abuse ($2.8 Million)
- Help prosecutors develop strategies to address violent crime caused by illegal opioid distribution and abuse
- Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program ($162 Million)
- Help jurisdictions plan and implement programs aimed at reducing opioid abuse and mitigating its impact on crime victims, including training and technical assistance
- Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program ($5.9 Million)
- Address the treatment needs of people using opioids under the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program
- Helping Children and Youth Impacted by Opioids ($46.6 Million)
- Help children and youth impacted by the opioid crisis, including training and technical assistance
- Drug Courts ($81.2 Million)
- Assist adult, juvenile, and family drug courts and veterans treatment courts, including training and technical assistance
- Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant Program ($17 Million)
- Address the dramatic increase in deaths and the backlogs of seized drugs as a result of the opioid crisis
- Opioid-Related Research for Criminal Justice Purposes ($4.1 Million)
- Development of new tools to enforce the law, ensure public safety, prevent and control crime, and ensure fair and impartial administration of justice