Sending Office: Honorable Ann M. Kuster
Cosponsors (9): Walorski, Turner, Jaypal, Bass, Cicilline, Etsy, Langevin, Holms-Norton, Jackson-Lee, Carson
Endorsed by: National Sheriffs Association, American Corrections Association, American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence, National Association of Counties, Association of State Correctional Administrators, Facing Addiction, NH Department
of Corrections, American Society of Addiction Medicine, Community Oriented Correctional Health Service
Addiction is rampant in United States prisons and jails, with an estimated 65 percent meeting the clinical criteria for substance use disorder (SUD). The national opioid, heroin, and substance abuse crisis is not only an incredible strain on state and county
incarceration systems but it increasingly impacting people outside of the criminal justice system.
An inmate’s risk of death within the first two weeks of release is more than 12 times that of other individuals, with the leading cause of death being a fatal overdose. Overdoses are more common when a person relapses after a period of abstinence,
due to loss of tolerance to the drug. Untreated substance use disorders contribute to a return to criminal activity, re-incarceration, and risky behaviors that can spread HIV and hepatitis B and C infections.
Moreover, prison and jail overcrowding, and soaring costs of incarceration are making these issues more acute than ever. States like California, Wisconsin, and Missouri have recently expanded their early release programs to combat rising costs. Most housed
in county jails have not been convicted but are awaiting trial. As jail populations increase, overcrowding and soaring costs are making release of these pretrial detainees attractive to counties with budgetary constraints.
Treating inmates and pre-trial detainees with Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) will prevent deaths, reduce the spread of communicable diseases, and reduce crime. President Trump, when announcing the White House Opioid strategy, acknowledged the value
of this policy when he said White House policy would include the evaluation of inmates for addiction and provisioning of treatment prior to release. Further, the
National Governors Association Recommendations for Addressing the Opioid Epidemic endorses additional federal support for justice involved populations.
Programs that provide access to MAT can help addicts enter and stay in recovery, thus eliminating a variable for recidivism. Studies have demonstrated MAT helps reduce crime, with up to 80 percent of patients reducing of disengaging from criminal activity.
A comprehensive examination of the economic benefits and cost of using MAT such as methadone reveals an incredible cost-benefit ratio: for every dollar spent, taxpayers gained four dollars in economic benefits. It is clear that MAT is not only effective at
treating addiction and reducing recidivism, but it also makes good, economic sense.
My bill, the Correctional Public Health and Community Re Entry Act, would create a new grant program administered by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to fund MAT programs in state, county, and municipal jails and prisons. Through this program, DOJ would be
required to ensure effective implementation of MAT programs by ensuring grantees follow certain requirements to be deemed eligible, such as providing a plan for measuring progress towards the program objectives and a strategy for collecting data that can be
used to measure such progress.
If you would like to cosponsor my bill or otherwise have questions, please contact my staffer Kathy Nickel at
Ann McLane Kuster
Member of Congress
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