U.S. Attorney’s Holds Seminar Focusing on Medication Assisted Treatment and the Americans with Disabilities Act
United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced today that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana organized and hosted a seminar for local sheriffs and drug-court judges on the availability of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) as means to combat the crisis of opioid addiction in local prison populations and the larger community. “It is well beyond reasonable dispute that opioid proliferation and addiction are at crisis levels both locally and nationwide,” U.S. Attorney Evans stated. He continued: “Combating this crisis with all available resources is a top DOJ priority.”
Representatives of six parishes in the Eastern District of Louisiana attended the June 27th seminar, which opened with a keynote address from Dr. John Morrison, Medical Director for the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections. AUSA David Howard Sinkman, the U.S. Attorney’s civil-rights coordinator, next provided an overview of the interaction between the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the use of MAT in correctional facilities, specialty courts, and other public entities. A panel discussion on the practical aspects of MAT use in prison populations featured testimonials from national experts Dr. Josiah Rich, a professor from Brown University, Dr. Jonathan Giftos, the Clinical Director of Substance Use Treatment at the Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York, and officials from the Philadelphia Department of Prisons.
A panel of state officials next addressed the use of MAT locally. Featured state officials included: Dr. Janice Petersen from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Gary Young and Tracy Falgout from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, and Kerry Lentini, the Director of the Louisiana Drug Court Program. A final address from Ms. Tara Kunkel, Senior Drug Policy Advisor from the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, highlighted potential grant and funding opportunities available to local providers to institute MAT programs in their respective facilities and courts. An open question-and-answer session concluded the event.
U.S. Attorney Evans commented on the interest in the seminar:
A collaborative, multi-faceted approach is necessary to attack opioid addiction from both supply and demand angles. We set an ambitious agenda to cover medical, legal, practical, and financial aspects of MAT in prisons, but found receptive local partners ready to implement new ideas and strategies.
The United States Attorney’s Office anticipates holding future meetings and possibly implementing a working group to further pursue this initiative. Assistant United States Attorneys David Howard Sinkman and Sharon Smith organized the event.