The West Virginia judicial system is joining a regional effort to combat opioid abuse, and a Kanawha County Circuit Judge will lead a multidisciplinary team that will work with seven other states.
State Supreme Court Chief Justice Allen Loughry has agreed to sign a charter in support of the Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative. According to a news release, Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey will lead the West Virginia team and be joined by Stephanie Bond, Director of the Division of Probation Services in the Supreme Court Administrative Office. The Supreme Court said other West Virginians will be appointed to the team as needed.
“The judiciary takes the opioid epidemic very seriously,” said Chief Justice Loughry in a news release. “I appointed Judge Jennifer Bailey to lead our team on this initiative because she is a very experienced drug court judge in our most-populous county. I am pleased she has agreed to offer her formidable talents to this effort.”
The goal of the initiative is to improve outcomes for individuals and families that enter the criminal justice and child welfare systems because of opioid use in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina and West Virginia.
The initiative’s action plan states the goals of:
- developing Standards of Care and reciprocity for treatment services and drug testing
- conducting a cost/benefit analysis of treatment expansion
- addressing the quality of addiction workforce and recruiting and retention challenges
- tracking all overdoses across the region
- developing a data model to forecast and provide a rapid early warning system for future epidemics
The initiative is a result of discussion at an an August 2016 regional judicial summit on drug abuse and will use local, state and federal partnerships and resources to focus on regional solutions. Partners include the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Casey Family Programs and the National Center for State Courts.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Virginia had the highest drug overdose rate in the nation in 2014 and the third-highest rate for the prescription of opioids.