New York, N.Y. – President Donald Trump is expected to declare a national state of emergency over the opioid epidemic in a speech Thursday, the Associated Press reported today. The move could increase the funding and resources available to tackle the issue. It was one of the major initiatives recommended by the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
“We’ve got to face this increase in opioid-related deaths head on,” said Ames Grawert, counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. “But Trump and his administration have, in the past, championed a misguided policy of arresting and prosecuting our way out of drug abuse. A growing group of bipartisan lawmakers, law enforcement, and advocates agree that is the wrong approach. We can’t jail our way to a less addicted country. Instead we need to make sure people suffering can receive the treatment they need to get better. It’s an approach that Trump’s task force has supported, 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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