Judges meet in Indianapolis, talk opioid crisis

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — As the opioid crisis spreads across Indiana, some of the country’s top judges are meeting in Indianapolis to talk about ways to stop it.

They want to tackle the issue head-on, from behind the bench.

Indiana’s Supreme Court says 757 people died from opioids in 2016, according to the most recent data available.

The questions before the judges’ benches: How do you address the crime but also help stop opioid addiction?

“I’ve never seen a drug have this hold. We’ve been through crack; we’ve looked at methamphetamine, both of which have a healthy hold. The treatment for this is different. The devastation to the families,” Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush said. 

Some of those devastated families are the households of Indiana judges. 

“I think it brings it home. I talked to one judge who had lost his son. He goes ‘I’m looking at every syringe case in my court right now. It has such a powerful impact,” said Rush.  

Rush served as a juvenile judge for years. She said 60 percent of the children in Indiana foster care services are there because of parental substance abuse.

“You think about a child. We would have an emergency detention hearing because mom and dad are passed out, dead. Bringing Narcan, with toddlers running around the house,” Rush said. 

Rush co-chairs the National Judicial Opioid task force. 

On Tuesday, justices from across the nation met for Day 2 of a talk about real solutions. 

“Courts and judges are really the external motivation for people to seek and get treatment. That’s one of the reasons for the task force,” Deborah Taylor Tate, administrative director with the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts, explained.  

Jail-based treatment programs are among the solutions being discussed.

“Can we take some of the federal money that’s coming, CURES money, and get a jail-based treatment so they can get medical assisted treatment and wraparound services when they get out?”

Another option is to get the tools to states and communities to help deal with the opioid crisis.

“There’s apps they use in Montana they have drug court participants use. It’s called Polycon. Use their smartphones with regard to getting treatment, follow up on treatment and wellness,” Rush said.

To learn more about the National Judicial Opioid Task Force, click here.

If you or someone you know needs help right now with opioid addiction, you’ll find a list of resources below:

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