Statewide Coalition & Elected Officials Hold Press Conference Calling on State Leaders to Pass – And Fully Fund – Bill for Medication-Assisted Treatment in Prisons & Jails

Press Release February 27, 2019
Media Contact

Dionna King, 646-481-3127
Jasmine Budnella, 720-480-5262

Albany, NY: Recovery advocates, family members who have lost loved ones to overdose, people with a history of drug use, drug policy activists, treatment trade groups, and elected officials will hold a press conference outside the Senate Chambers to call on the state to urgently pass and fully fund A833/S2161. The bill would establish medication-assisted treatment (MAT), including methadone and buprenorphine, in all New York State jails and prisons.

Speakers will highlight that this bill is a civil rights and human rights issue, as people in jails and prisons across the state are forced to inhumanely withdrawal – often without medical care, often in solitary confinement, and in some cases leading to death. Speakers will express frustration that in an unrelenting crisis, Governor Cuomo has proposed allocating a mere $3.75 million to finance MAT programs in 50 county jails. This exemplifies his tragic legacy of under-funding resources and programs proven to significantly decrease overdose deaths in other states – thus forcing counties to bear the financial burden of implementing life-saving treatment in jails.

What: Press Conference for Medication-Assisted Treatment in New York Jails and Prisons
When: Thursday, February 28th at 1:00 PM EST
Where: Outside Senate Chambers
Who: Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal; Senator Jamaal Bailey; Assemblymember Richard Gottfried; Sheriff Craig Apple; Drug Policy Alliance; Friends Of Recovery New York; Association of Substance Abuse Providers New York; Katal Center for Health, Equity and Justice; Coalition of Medication-Assisted Treatment Providers and Advocates of New York State; VOCAL-NY

Background: Overdose deaths have increased 200% under Governor Cuomo, and people are 40 times more likely to die of an opioid overdose in the first two weeks after being released from prison. The Medication Assisted Treatment in the Prisons and Jails Bill (A833/S2161) would establish a medication-assisted treatment program for incarcerated people, who could opt into treatment at any point of their incarceration, receive treatment for the entirety of their incarceration, and develop a collaborative reentry strategy with clinical and parole personnel. If passed and fully funded, this bill would reduce both overdose deaths as well as the cruel and tortuous experience of forced withdrawal for many people behind bars.  It would also increase the likelihood of people continuing treatment after release, while decreasing recidivism rates and HIV and hepatitis C infections.

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