Few Americans realize that sex trafficking is as close to home as their own communities. As the nation notes “human trafficking awareness” month, a West Virginia advocate explores the special tragedies it inflicts in a state that leads the nation in both poverty and drug addiction.
Inmates leaving the Harris County jail in Texas will soon be offered monthly Vivitrol injections to help them combat heroin and opioid addiction. The innovative pilot program has sparked some criticism, but defenders say the treatment can help keep addicts out of the justice system.
Drug deaths among African Americans in urban counties rose 41 percent in 2016, far outpacing any other racial or ethnic group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The death rate among whites rose 19 percent.
The Sentencing Project released a report Wednesday assailing the grievous lack of medical treatment for addiction in prisons and jails, hours before the newly appointed Bureau of Prisons director was scheduled to testify before the House of Representatives.
White homicide victims increased by 22 percent between 2014-2016—not too far off the 29 percent increase in black victims. One possible reason: the opioid epidemic. New evidence reveals a spike in drug-related violence reminiscent of the crack cocaine era, says a leading criminologist.
The Attorney General tells a news conference that “effective enforcement” should be a priority for new legislation. He also announced a new DEA Division for the Appalachian region, and the appointment of Kellyanne Conway, one of President Trump’s top advisers, to oversee White House initiatives to combat opioid abuse.
Prosecutors around the country have intensified their pursuit of homicide charges–hoping to send a clear warning to drug dealers in response to the epidemic of drug deaths in the U.S. But the Drug Policy Alliance says there is “not a shred of evidence” to indicate that these charges result in fewer overdose deaths.
Public health officials tell senators that the addiction crisis has spiraled so far out of control that it is beyond the scope of any one agency to address. “We need all hands on deck,” said Dr. Francis Collins of the National Institutes of Health.
The president called the opioid problem a “national emergency” just last month. The prospects for funding to deal with it may be limited, in view of a clamor for funding to pay for damages by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.