NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Brooklyn District Attorney announced a new approach when it comes to fighting the opioid epidemic Tuesday.
He says throwing addicts in jail won’t solve the problem, but getting them life saving treatment may do the trick.
For six years, Abraham Klein of Brooklyn has missed his daughter dearly: That’s when her struggle with substance abuse began. At just 20-years-old, she became yet another victim to heroin.
Klein says there was nothing that scared her enough to walk away.
District Attorney Eric Gonzalez says that’s why now is the time to make some changes.
“We all understand we can not arrest and jail our way to safety,” he said Tuesday after announcing Brooklyn C.L.E.A.R., short for Collaborative Legal Engagement Assistance. It’s a program for those arrested with small amounts of narcotics to choose the option of seeking treatment and avoid being in the criminal justice system.
If a person is eligible, they’re given a seven-day window to be assessed by a peer recovery coach and the case will be postponed for 30 days.
“Instead of the case going back to court, my office will decline to prosecute the case if they’re actively and meaningfully participating in undergoing treatment,” Gonzalez said.
Launched in Brooklyn South precincts experiencing the highest number of overdose rates, including 84 fatalities as well as 189 lives saved from Narcan.
The numbers tell only a small part of the story. The DA says there are many cases that aren’t even reported to the NYPD, but based on last year’s arrest numbers over 700 people would be eligible for CLEAR.