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Markey, Koutoujian push expanded opioid treatment in jails

Edward MarkeyMarkey

Peter J. Koutoujian, sheriffKoutoujian

Sen. Edward J. Markey (D- MA) joined Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian for a private round-table discussion with staff and inmates at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction about efforts to expand opioid treatment in jails.

Markey visited Billerica to discuss the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office nationally recognized Medication Assisted Treatment And Directed Opioid Recovery (MATADOR) program and talk about his recently filed Community Re-Entry through Addiction Treatment to Enhance Opportunities Act.The bipartisan CREATE Opportunities Act, which has been endorsed by both the Major County Sheriffs of America and the National Sheriffs’ Association, would authorize the creation of a federally funded grant program allowing local jurisdictions to provide access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in correctional facilities. 

 “We were honored to have Senator Markey visit and meet with those directly impacted by this crisis and who will most benefit from the critical, bipartisan legislation he has filed,” Koutoujian said in a news release. “The senator has been a true leader and partner in efforts to identify and support initiatives like our MATADOR program to tackle the opioid crisis. Passage of this legislation would benefit jurisdictions large and small across the country and greatly enhance our capabilities as we prepare for the expanded MAT pilot here in the Commonwealth.”

Since the launch of MATADOR in the fall of 2015, 82 percent of participants who successfully completed six months in the program have not returned to opiod use and 96 percent of all participants -- regardless of whether they had completed the program -- had not succumbed to a fatal postrelease overdose.

“Our county jails are an indispensable partner in ending the opioid overdose crisis once and for all,” Markey said. “Evidence shows that providing medication assisted treatment during incarceration can reduce the likelihood of an opioid overdose fatality. We need to provide programs like MATADOR in Middlesex County the funding they need to expand this lifesaving treatment. We know we cannot incarcerate our way out of this crisis. Instead, we must rehabilitate in order to reduce recidivism and save lives. I applaud Sheriff Koutoujian for his commitment to compassion and rehabilitation.”

Round-table participants who met with Markey discussed some of the components that have led to MATADOR’s success, including enrollment in health insurance, especially Medicaid, and the importance of navigators who assist those leaving incarceration through the crucial early days and months of the reentry process. Markey recently reintroduced the Supporting Positive Outcomes After Release Act, legislation that would prohibit states from terminating an inmate’s Medicaid coverage while they are incarcerated.

In addition to the round table, Markey also toured the medical unit and met with inmates and detainees in the facility’s Housing Unit for Military Veterans.

This news announcement was published Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019.

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