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Keyword: criminal justice

Recommendations to Prevent Opioid Addiction, Expand Treatment and Reduce Overdose Deaths Released

The Opioid Response Working Group convened by Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski today released its final report (PDF), which includes 11 recommendations to prevent addiction, expand access to treatment and reduce overdose deaths.

The recommendations fall into seven categories, including stigma, prevention, treatment, recovery, family support, criminal justice, and harm reduction.

“Every overdose death means the loss of a son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, neighbor and friend. We must act strategically and decisively to address this devastating epidemic,” County Executive Olszewski said. “While we are proud of the tangible steps we are taking to address this epidemic, every death is preventable and we must continue to do more. I commend our working group for listening to people across the county and producing a set of specific recommendations to help us take immediate action and save lives.”

Statistics

Baltimore County has the second highest number of overdose deaths in the state – in 2018, 348 people died from opioid-related overdoses, up from 323 in 2017. In the first six months of 2019, the county saw a small decline in the number of overdose deaths, but there were still 187 drug and alcohol overdose deaths in the county in that period.

Olszewski named an Opioid Strategy Coordinator and in May, he created the Opioid Response Working Group. The Working Group gathered public input through an online survey and two public meetings, as well as information from experts and stakeholders. A draft report was released in September with an opportunity for public comment.

“We appreciate the engagement of so many people across the county sharing their knowledge and experience on the opioid crisis,” said working group chair and President and CEO of GBMC HealthCare System Dr. John Chessare. “These recommendations reflect this input and will set the County on a path for further progress.”

The Recommendations

The working group recommendations released today are:

  1. The Department of Health should develop and launch an expanded campaign to reduce stigma against people who use drugs and medication-based treatment for opioid use disorder.
  2. Baltimore County Public Schools should implement programs that build resilience among and support for youth.
  3. The Department of Health should build partnerships with government and community organizations to prevent opioid misuse by addressing social determinants of substance use.
  4. The Department of Health should set standards for providing addiction treatment in hospitals, primary care clinics, mental health programs, and addiction treatment programs. These standards should include offering individuals with opioid use disorder treatment with FDA-approved medications.
  5. The County should revise zoning restrictions to permit more opioid treatment programs that meet standards for high quality to serve county residents.
  6. The Department of Health should consider hub and spoke or similar models that support patients with different levels of complexity and changing needs over the course of treatment.
  7. The Department of Planning should develop a proposal to address barriers to the opening of recovery housing in Baltimore County. The proposal should receive public comment and be considered for adoption by the Planning Board, County Council, and County Executive..  
  8. The Department of Health and Human Services should strengthen family support in two high-priority areas: for pregnant and parenting individuals and their families, and for family members of individuals affected by addiction.
  9. Baltimore County should make treatment with all three FDA-approved medications available to all individuals with opioid use disorder in the County correctional system.
  10. The Police Department should develop a plan to adopt a formal program that diverts individuals with a substance use disorder to treatment services instead of incarceration.
  11. The Department of Health should expand access to harm reduction programs based in evidence for populations at risk of overdose.

The working group today also released responses (PDF) to the online survey and comments received about the draft report.

The full Report of Findings and Recommendations (PDF) is available for downloading and on the County's webpage for the Opioid Response Working Group.


Commission for Women Sub-Group to Coordinate Education and Criminal Justice Approaches 

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced today that the Baltimore County Commission for Women will establish a cross-functional work group to address the complex issue of human trafficking in coordination with the County’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. The work group will take a victim-centered approach as they work to reduce trafficking and protect victims by providing them with the resources they need in partnership with a variety of organizations, including non-profits and regional counterparts across the state.

"Human trafficking is a horrific practice that has absolutely no place in Baltimore County or anywhere,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “The vulnerable women, children and men who are victimized need our help and protection and we plan to work together to quickly identify actions we can take to address this challenging problem.”

The work group will select a member to be a permanent member of the County’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) and the Chair of the CJCC will approve the membership of the work group, which will be comprised of a team of professionals and individuals from the Commission for Women and representatives from law enforcement, education, social services and the health and legal fields. Individual members must be County residents with a proven history and involvement in public advocacy. 

The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council’s Leadership Role

The CJCC membership includes the Baltimore County Chief of Police, Sheriff, State’s Attorney, Chief Administrative Judges of the Circuit and District Courts, Public Defender, Department of Corrections Director, Director of Health and Human Services, School Superintendent and the Criminal Justice Coordinator; as well as the Regional Director of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services and the Community Supervision Director of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and others.  

The CJCC provides coordinated leadership to establish cohesive criminal justice strategies, policies and programs; identifies deficiencies, and formulates policy, plans and programs for improvement. They also collaborate to maximize resources and raise funds to support criminal justice programs.  

A Focus on Victims

The Human Trafficking Work Group will be committed to a victim-centered approach and is charged with recommending a more comprehensive, specialized and coordinated response to victims’ long-term needs, including a review of coordination related to State policies and protocols.

Commission for Women President, Bella Santos Owens, said, “Six years ago, when only a few were talking in our community about human trafficking, we were already raising awareness on this issue. The Commission for Women knew that behind the silence are the struggles of real human beings. We persisted. We are very proud that an official work group has been formed by the County – upon the Commission’s proposal – dedicated to finding the gaps that exist between human trafficking victim services and policies. This confirms our view that human trafficking is a crime that is in our backyard and needs to be addressed.”

About Human Trafficking

Baltimore County ranks third in Maryland in occurrences of human trafficking, behind Baltimore City and Prince George’s County, according to the Maryland Department of Human Services. The National Human Trafficking Hotline received 30,918 reports in 2016. The International Labor Organization estimates that human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide.

More information about human trafficking is available through the National Human Trafficking Hotline, at 1-888-373-7888, where you can learn about the types and signs of human trafficking.

If someone suspects human trafficking activity in Baltimore County, they are advised to call 9-1-1 to report their concerns. 


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017