New York, NY – President Donald Trump announced in a press conference today that he’s planning to declare a national state of emergency over the opioid epidemic, which could increase the funding and resources available to solve the problem. The move was one of the major initiatives recommended by the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, and reverses remarks made after a briefing earlier this week by Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, who said the president would hold off on making the call.
“A national state of emergency underscores the urgency with which we’ve got to tackle this crisis,” said Ames Grawert, counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. “But increasing the number of drug-related prosecutions, as Trump championed earlier this week, is the wrong way to go. This is not a problem that we can incarcerate our way out of. Instead we need to make sure people suffering from addiction have access to the treatment they need to get better. It’s an approach that Trump’s task force supported in their initial recommendations, and he should follow their lead.”
The presidential commission also supported additional protections for people who report an overdose to law enforcement. Its recommendations veered from the “tough-on-crime” approach and rhetoric favored by the administration so far, which the Brennan Center has analyzed in Sen. Jeff Sessions’ Record on Criminal Justice and Criminal Justice in President Trump’s First 100 Days.
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