FREEHOLD, N.J.— Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) today announced a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) to boost county programs that provide treatment, recovery support systems and relapse prevention for opioid addicts already in the corrections system.
Smith praised Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden and the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders Director Thomas A. Arnone for submitting a solid proposal and winning the federal funds in a competitive grant program.
The County was awarded a Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program, or COAP, in the amount of $1,199,993 over a three-year period, to expand services to low-level, non-violent drug offenders in county jail. According to the National Institutes for Health, in 2017 there were nearly 2,000 overdose deaths in New Jersey—including 172 in Monmouth County—a rate about 50 percent higher than the national average.
“The opioid crisis needs to be fought at many levels: in Washington, in every state and at the local level,” said Rep. Smith (NJ-04). “This grant will bring federal dollars to the fight at the county level. Monmouth County Freeholder Director Arnone and the Board of Freeholders gave the go-ahead for this initiative, and Sheriff Golden has run with it. Sheriff Golden and his workers at the county jail are on the front lines in the opioid crisis. Inmates and especially those who are entering the system are vulnerable to relapse, overdosing and death when they are released or make bail. Opioids have ruined many lives and families, but this measure is an attempt to avoid tragedy and reduce deaths.”
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Specifically, the Monmouth County Correctional institution (MCCI), run by Sheriff Golden, will use the grant to expand an existing in-custody medication assisted treatment (MAT) program and provide behavioral treatment. The Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program (COAP) was developed as part of the federal Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) legislation Congress passed in 2016. Smith voted for the bill.
“This grant will enhance Monmouth County’s efforts in the ongoing fight against the opioid epidemic as funds will be used towards the rehabilitation of incarcerated individuals and promote successful re-entry intervention. Inmates with substance use disorder will receive the highest standard of treatment by the correctional facility’s medical staff, prior to release from jail and help ensure that after release proper treatment will be provided,” said Sheriff Golden. “We are pleased Monmouth County was awarded the federal grant and commend Rep. Chris Smith for his strong support in battling drug abuse, as well as the hard work of the correctional staff, who assisted in the grant application process.”
Freeholder Director Arnone said the grant help continue the county’s fight against the opioid epidemic.
“Monmouth County is thrilled to receive grant funding for our Correctional Institution, which will be used to help County inmates recover from their respective addictions,” said Freeholder Director Arnone. “The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Sheriff’s Office and Prosecutor’s Office will continue to combat the ongoing opioid epidemic in New Jersey and we are grateful for the federal support to aid our efforts.”
COAP’s purpose is to provide financial and technical assistance to state and local government to plan, develop, and implement efforts to identify, respond to, treat, and support those impacted by the opioid epidemic. COAP seeks to reduce opioid abuse and the number of overdose fatalities, as well as to mitigate the impacts on crime victims by supporting comprehensive, collaborative initiatives. The program also supports the implementation, enhancement, and proactive use of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) to support clinical decision making and prevent the abuse and diversion of controlled substances.
The Monmouth County jail is one of the largest county jails in the country, with a capacity of 1,328 inmates. The jails’ Substance Abuse Unit will work with the medical unit to provide inmates who currently have MATs as well as new inmates who do not have a MAT with individualized plans for drug treatment and monitoring. The State of New Jersey Department of Health estimates over 70 percent inmates have a substance use disorder, of which 80 percent were under the influence when they committed their crime. Furthermore, 75 percent of inmates relapse into addiction within three months of their release.
The objective of the grant is to encourage and support the development of comprehensive, locally driven responses to the opioid epidemic that expand access to supervision, treatment, and recovery support services across the criminal justice system; support law enforcement and other first responder diversion programs for non-violent drug offenders; promote education and prevention activities; and address the needs of children impacted by the opioid epidemic. Projects involve multiple agencies and partners.