Sainato: Nearly $117,000 awarded for criminal justice diversion programs

Will provide path to treatment and recovery for those with Opioid Use Disorder

NEW CASTLE, Feb. 18 – People facing incarceration because of substance abuse disorder will have an alternative to jail and new avenues for treatment and recovery, thanks to a $116,861 grant from the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, state Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence, announced today.

Sainato said the grant – funded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – will allow the Lawrence County Drug and Alcohol Commission to collaborate with local law enforcement and treatment providers to offer a more effective, treatment-based approach.

“For people who end up in the criminal justice system because of Opioid Use Disorder, treating the underlying illness often is the only way to break the cycle of recidivism,” Sainato said. “Unfortunately, jail time fails to provide this treatment, and after these folks are released, they return to the same criminal behavior. It perpetuates a vicious cycle that drains taxpayer resources and injures families and communities.

“That’s why drug courts and police diversion programs – in which participants are closely supervised and monitored as they receive treatment and rehabilitation – are proving so successful nationwide. Securing this funding means that we can implement these programs on the local level and bring recovery to those who’ve turned to criminal behavior solely because of their underlying illness. Our taxpayers, our economy and our entire community stand to benefit.”

Sainato noted that the funding is part of a package of $1.5 million in grants to seven single county authorities statewide, which will implement or expand on programs like the PA Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, administered through the Office of the Attorney General.

The grants are part of the $55.9 million federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant awarded to bolster the state’s response to the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic.