Battling the Opioid Epidemic – Are Arrests the Answer in Connecticut?

According to reports, up to 20 Connecticut towns will soon be joining a nationwide lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies who manufacture and market opioids like OxyContin.

These towns and cities include Norwalk, Darien, New Milford and Waterbury Connecticut.

The lawsuit claims that these drug companies and pharmacies who sell Oxy and opiates don’t adequately warn consumers just how dangerously addictive these painkillers and prescription drugs are.

Perhaps there’s merit in the lawsuit. But even more telling of this bombshell lawsuit is the message that top Connecticut criminal lawyers believe it sends to law enforcement: arrests, criminal records and jail sentences are not the solution either.

The Opioid / Heroin Epidemic in Connecticut is Real

Connecticut residents—especially parents in Greenwich, Stamford, Darien and New Canaan whose children are recovering from athletic injuries and surgeries—need to appreciate just how dangerous these painkillers are.

Ask any of the best criminal lawyers in Stamford, Greenwich or New Canaan who regularly defend clients arrested for Possession of Narcotics…it’s very hard for these elite high school or college athletes to appreciate the risks of painkillers and prescription drugs when they are focused on getting back on the field or court as quickly as possible. After all, their college prospects are on the line and there is tremendous pressure to perform.

But here’s a staggering statistic reported yesterday in the Stamford Advocate: more than 1,000 Connecticut residents are expected to die of overdoses this year.

Connecticut Police & Prosecutors—and Communities—Need to Develop a Strategy Besides Making Arrests

What isn’t working is arresting the opioid users for drug crimes. This solution just exacerbates the anxiety and depression of the user, as their felony and misdemeanor arrests and mug shots are broadcast in bright lights on the internet. The arrests are then re-published on social media and “breaking news” email blasts. What company or financial institution would want to hire an individual who has a documented narcotics addiction problem?

Remember, these people who are getting arrested are NOT the offenders who are selling the drugs and putting them out on the street. These are the kids and young men and women who are battling addiction.

They need help, not handcuffs.

Judicial Review Boards which Divert Prosecutions & Promote Rehabilitation Are the Answer!

Law enforcement is starting to get it—especially with teenaged offenders. Darien, New Canaan and Wilton Connecticut have launched arrest diversion programs called “Judicial Review Boards” which provide an alternative to the criminal court process. When they are caught committing a crime, some suspects are given the opportunity to waive their rights to a trial, avoid an arrest, and appear before a citizen-populated “Judicial Review Board” of educators and health care professionals who will work with the teenager to educate and rehabilitate them. If they satisfy all of the conditions of their program, their case gets dismissed without any court intervention.

We need this program for adults addicted to Oxycontin and heroin as well.   It will keep our clogged court dockets from being overpopulated with drug cases where rehabilitation is the solution, and give these good people a second chance without having a scarlet letter of an arrest record haunting them for the remainder of their professional life.

Contact a Connecticut Drug Crime Lawyer Today

While these programs are just getting up and running, any of the experienced criminal lawyers at Mark Sherman Law can push for a similar defense strategy in towns that don’t offer Judicial Review Boards. We will advocate aggressively for you or your child with law enforcement to get a Narcotics investigation or arrest dismissed, and instead get you or your child the help they need. Click here to see success stories and certified client reviews from our prior narcotics clients. Then call us today at (203) 358-4700.