More than often we see addicts treated like criminals, rather than people with a chronic and fatal disease. Yes, the buying, possession and use of drugs is illegal, and the lifestyle that is incorporated with addiction is usually associated with criminal acts and behavior. However, the problem lies within the proper care of those arrested for drug related crimes.
Currently, Lackawanna County Judge Barrasse, in conjunction with the District Attorney’s office, local Human Services offices and commissioners, has designed a new pretrial initiative to help those who struggle with addiction get the help they need. Instead of treating this only like a criminal justice matter, Lackawanna County is recognizing this as a public health crisis.
Judge Barrasse mentioned “All individuals that go through the criminal justice system – at the time of their preliminary hearing – will have a full drug and alcohol and mental health assessment, if necessary, to make sure that the disease is being taken care of up front. We’re not waiting until after a person is sentenced; we’re not waiting for their probationary period or waiting until they die because of an overdose.”
The County recognizes that the current rise in heroin and opioid addiction is not something that will just go away. People are suffering, families are helpless and inevitably, addicts are dying. It is a national crisis; a plague on society. The hope is that this new program will help break the perpetual cycle of addiction.
District Attorney Shane Scanlon and 4 detectives in his office have reported a substantially high number of felony drug arrests this year in Lackawanna County; 26 in January, 23 in February and 28 in March. Mr. Scanlon anticipates that with this new plan in place, they can redirect drug offenders from continuously entering jail, and rather find a solution to their disease. This in turn will decrease jail populations, save money and most importantly, save lives.
Too many of us die before ever experiencing the miracle of sobriety. If you or someone you love is battling the disease of addiction, please give us the opportunity to offer a solution. For more than 40 years, Clearbrook has helped thousands of people heal and recreate their lives. We have worked closely with local court systems, namely Lackawanna County, with one common goal in mind: treating addicts with the utmost respect and care, and giving them the tools to maintain sobriety. If you are struggling with addiction, please call Clearbrook today.