Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $900,000)
The Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office (CCPO) proposes an innovative solution to drug related crime by offering treatment and key peer recovery supports as a critical intervention that interrupts perpetuated criminal behavior. This collaborative diversionary program is entitled Fighting Relapse Effort Employing Drug Offense Monitoring Plus (FREEDOM+), demonstrating the dualism of freeing participants from their substance use disorders, while also keeping them free from the criminal justice system. Additional harm reduction, prevention, and intervention efforts like Narcan distribution and education, fentanyl test strips, DEA National Take Back Initiative and integrating LEAD and PAARI programs are the ‘plus’ part of this project as we support our community members fighting to be substance free.
Research has shown that penalties or enticements from the criminal justice system, family, or employment settings, can significantly increase treatment entry, retention rates, and the successful outcomes of drug treatment interventions. On this basis, the FREEDOM+ program aims to drive those caught in the cycle of relapse and drug-seeking behavior toward treatment on threat of legal consequence, while setting up the participant for success with compassionate peer recovery support services.
The Cumberland County Department of Human Services (CCDHS) will be a primary partner in implementing FREEDOM+. CCDHS operates a state licensed treatment facility where they will administer Comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Evaluations and provide a quality, evidenced-based multi-faceted approach to address substance use problems for individuals and families. CCDHS also operates the Capital Recovery Center, which will be instrumental in managing the progress of defendants participating in FREEDOM+ and providing holistic peer recovery supports.
During the project period our goal is to make a qualified offer, through their defense counsel, to an estimated 600 defendants to participate in FREEDOM+; with hopes that the offered opportunity and supports will motivate as many as 50% of participants to remain compliant into sustained recovery. This will make major strides at preventing and reducing criminal behavior, increasing public safety, while also improving community trust in law enforcement by decreasing the number of indictments required to prosecute crime driven by drug seeking behavior.
Lastly, by offering holistic recovery support services, FREEDOM+ will pay long-term dividends as we address the gripping effects of addiction which will lift these individuals out of perpetual poverty and connect them back to their community; ultimately, leading to an increase in public safety, where neighborhoods can thrive as those suffering are set free.