Opioid intervention task force recommends against new courts

January 2, 2019

A task force formed to study the creation of an opioid intervention court has recommended the state bolster existing programs instead.

The group released its final report, including its recommendations, Tuesday.

“In many cases, the best opioid court is not a court at all; entanglement in the criminal justice system, particularly for low-level offenders, can be less productive than diversion,” the report stated. The members agreed that creating such courts “are staff and resource intensive, and will not reach as many people.”

The Task Force to Study the Feasibility of Establishing Opioid Intervention Courts’ first and strongest recommendation was to expand the state Judicial Branch’s Treatment Pathway Program statewide; this would cost an estimated 9 million.

The task force grew out of Public Act 18-166, which required the chief court administrator to consult with the chief public defender, chief state’s attorney and dean of the University of Connecticut School of Law to determine the feasibility of establishing one or more courts specialized for opioid-dependent defendants.

The task force met Sept. 18, Oct. 17 and Dec. 11.

In May 2017, Buffalo, N.Y., established the first opioid intervention court in the country, partially funded by a 106,404. The division employs 33 full-time social workers.

The third recommendation is to contract for an additional 123 residential beds for defendants not eligible for TPP; this is the number of beds reduced in the 2015-16 budget due to fiscal constraints. The task force said this would cost between 7,134,000.

The final two recommendations are for the General Assembly to examine the forthcoming report on the Early Screening and Intervention Pilot Program and see how it might be expanded, and to expand Law Enforcement Assisted Diversionary Programs.


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