Gov. Beshear directs $10M to battle heroin addiction under reforms passed this year

06/15/2015 05:38 PM

LEXINGTON — Inmates, newborns and others addicted to heroin will find some relief after Gov. Steve Beshear announced on Monday his plans for $10 million appropriated in anti-heroin legislation passed this session.

Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown laid out Beshear’s recommended spending, which will be effective July 1, during an Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary meeting at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

The programs funded by the measure range from assistance to newborns addicted to heroin to treatment programs in jails and prisons.

According to a news release from Beshear’s office, funding recommendations include:

  • $1 million to the Department of Corrections (DOC) for substance abuse treatment programs for county inmates in local jails
  • $500,000 to expand substance abuse treatment programs for state inmates in local jails.
  • $1.5 million to DOC for an injectable, Food and Drug Administration-approved extended-release treatment program to prevent an opiate relapse as offenders are released from custody.
  • $2.6 million for grants to community mental health centers to fund additional substance abuse treatment resources on a local level.
  • $1 million to address neonatal abstinence syndrome by assisting with transitional care and wrap-around services.
  • $1.2 million to the Department for Public Advocacy to fully fund DPA’s social worker program, for the purpose of developing individualized alternative sentencing plans.
  • $1.2 million to the Prosecutors Advisory Council to enhance the use of so-called rocket docket prosecutions in controlled substance cases.
  • $1 million to the Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy to supplement traditional programming.

Sen. Whitney Westerfield, a Hopkinsville Republican and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, questioned whether the allocations would go to areas of the state where heroin addiction is severe, such as northern Kentucky.

Brown said he believed in dealing where the most serious threat is first.

“We will look at the areas where we are seeing this impact first,” Brown said.

Sen. Wil Schroder, a Wilder Republican who represents Campbell County, one of the hardest-hit areas when it comes to heroin addiction, expressed disappointment with Brown that his area is not getting the allocation of funds that it needs to fight the problem.

Brown said that the eight different areas represent the best areas to attack the problem statewide.

“It’s not a matter of no one being excluded from its fair share; it’s a matter of spending money pursuant to the bill with the programs and aids,” Brown said.

“I’m sure there will be social workers, I’m sure there will be rocket dockets in northern Kentucky coming out of the $1.2 million that’s going both to PAC and DPA.”

Besides the $10 million in funds for the eight programs, Senate Bill 192 offers multiple provisions to reduce the trafficking and abuse of heroin. Traffickers will face stiffer penalties, particularly if heroin is transported across state lines.

A “good Samaritan” provision gives users legal immunity if they report an overdose victim. The new law also authorizes more use of the anti-overdose drug naloxone and allows communities the option of setting up needle exchanges.

About Don Weber

Don Weber joined cn|2 when it launched back in May 2010 and soon became a reporter for Pure Politics. He is a graduate of Northern Kentucky University and has spent many years covering everything from politics to sports. Don says he loves meeting new people everyday as part of his job and also enjoys the fact that no two days are the same when he comes to work. Don Weber can be reached at donald.weber@twcnews.com.

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