Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr. for the Conference Committee on S. 524, the “Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act”

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
The crisis of opioid abuse and addiction clearly requires our immediate attention. 

In my state of Michigan, for example, there were 1,745 drug overdose deaths in 2014.  And, more than half of those overdose deaths were caused by opioids and heroin.  Each day, 78 Americans die from an opioid overdose.

Fortunately, we now have better ways of addressing issues of addiction, and we know that incarceration is not the answer.

We know that there are effective ways to get addicts to treatment and to quickly provide them with needed services that address their addiction and prevent recidivism.  And, we know that evidence-based treatment and alternatives to incarceration work.

Title 2 of this bill reflects much of this approach in the grant program as reported by the Judiciary Committee and passed by the House. 

While I have supported this effort, I have also supported alternative approaches that would provide separate grant programs for many of these worthy purposes. 

But, regardless of which approach this conference committee adopts, we must do more than simply authorize funding. 

We must provide real dollars that are urgently needed by those fighting this crisis. 

To emphasize this, I ask consent to enter into the record a letter that police chiefs participating in the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative sent to us urging that we provide $1.1 billion in increased funding to address this issue.  

That will be the true measure of success of this legislative effort.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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