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This Groundbreaking Letter From Dozens of Sheriffs and DAs Calls for MAT in Jails

Lack of access to methadone and buprenorphine, life saving opioid use disorder medications, for vulnerable incarcerated populations has long been a stain on the US criminal justice system.

On April 3, a groundbreaking open letter—signed by 58 current or former elected sheriffs, district attorneys and other law enforcement and criminal justice officials and leaders from across the US—called for this situation to end in jails and prisons, and for naloxone distribution on release.

Incarcerated populations are hugely important in the context of addressing the opioid-involved overdose crisis. A 2018 CDC report indicated that in around 10 percent of overdose deaths, there was evidence of the person being released from an institutional setting in the month prior.

Law enforcement voices have the potential to be powerful influences on mainstream and government opinion. The letter was organized by Fair and Just Prosecution and the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP)*, two pro-reform advocacy groups.

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