Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,600,000)
The Middle District Attorney’s Office, in partnership with AdCare Hospital and the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children, seeks Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Site-Based Program (COSSAP) funding to support the Worcester County Drug Diversion and Drug Endangered Children Initiative.
The Middle District Attorney’s Office is the lead prosecution agency for the 60 communities that make up Worcester County, Massachusetts. The county has 862,111 residents and covers the largest geographical area of any county in the Commonwealth. Over the last seven years, the county’s law enforcement, municipal leaders, medical providers, treatment agencies, and other vested parties have joined forces to assess risk and protective factors related to opioid misuse. These representatives make up the Central Massachusetts Opioid Task Force, which aims to reduce overdoses and overdose deaths among local residents, to prevent first-use of opioids, and to change the trajectory of intergenerational trauma resulting from substance misuse.
The Task Force has identified treatment for substance use disorder as an area of great need as the county works to reduce overdoses. In prosecution this is particularly evident. Crime is often correlated with substance misuse and approximately 85% of the U.S. prison population has an active substance use disorder or were incarcerated for a crime involving drugs or drug use. Our intention is to continue using data-driven, evidence-based strategies to reduce the number of low-level offenders with a history of substance use disorder that become incarcerated in Central Massachusetts.
Additionally, the Task Force recognizes the need for greater awareness and response to the impact caregiver substance use has on children. Local data indicates the identification rate of these children is lower than expected in a region the size of Worcester County. Unidentified children inherently lack access to the trauma informed services needed to address their victimization and its long-term impacts. This project will utilize national expertise in assessing community needs and developing appropriate responses through proven practices.
As aligned with COSSAP priorities, this project will achieve the following: 1) Expand diversion opportunities for low-level offenders with history of substance misuse; 2) Reduce the number of unintentional overdose deaths among low-level offenders and criminal justice system-involved individuals in Worcester County; 3) Evaluate the impact of diversion strategies and substance-abuse treatment for low-level offenders with history of substance misuse; 4) Operationalize a county-wide Drug Endangered Children Alliance; and 5) Reduce impact of trauma on children in Worcester County.