MA Lawmakers work to decrease repeat drug offenders

A deadly mix of heroin and fentanyl has led to a rise in drug overdoses

BOSTON (WWLP) – There is an effort on Beacon Hill to keep nonviolent drug offenders out of jail. 22News explains how this proposal hopes to help, rather than punish.

The Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse passed a bill that aims to send nonviolent drug offenders to treatment instead of prison, an effort they say will decrease repeat drug offenders.

According to Rep. Liz Malia, (D) Jamaica Plain, “If they’re in jail, if they’re incarcerated, and you have a drug problem, you should be getting treatment and help getting started on the road to recovery while you’re in jail.”

The bill will create three commissions that will study effective treatment programs, develop plans to expand availability to abusers and how it would impact jail and prison populations.

Sandwich State Representative Randy Hunt says Massachusetts ranks third from the bottom in the nation when it comes to providing treatment to drug abusers. The committee believes the bill is cost effective.

Rep. Hunt said, “There it is; there’s the light bulb. We have the money to deal with this situation if we just redirect it to the right place.”

The committee believes that the bill will help overcrowded jails and prisons.