02.28.14

Leahy Announces U.S. Senate Field Hearing On Vermont’s Battle Against Heroin And Opioid Addiction, In Rutland On March 17

. . . Senate Judiciary Committee’s Focus: ‘Community Solutions To Breaking The Cycle Of Heroin And Opioid Addiction’

Senator Patrick Leahy announced Friday that the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a rare field hearing in Vermont to augment Vermont’s heightened mission, announced by Governor Peter Shumlin, to counter the rise of heroin and opioid addiction in the state.

Leahy, the committee’s chairman, has titled the hearing, “Community Solutions to Breaking the Cycle of Heroin and Opioid Addiction.”  The hearing will convene at 1 p.m. on March 17 in the Franklin Conference Center at the Howe Center, 1 Scale Ave., in Rutland.

Leahy has held three previous Judiciary Committee field hearings in Vermont on drug abuse and its related problems in rural America, in St. Albans, Barre and Rutland.  The hearings led to strengthening of the Vermont Drug Task Force – an interagency federal-state-local partnership – in part with funds secured at the federal level by Leahy.  Leahy also applied the findings of those hearings in his subsequent work on reentry issues and drug treatment programs through his Second Chance Act, and in his support for drug courts.

Leahy said, “This is a continuing process of examining facts, distilling solutions, and then continually adapting and refining them.  Heroin addiction ravages individual lives, families and communities, and it generates crime.  It kindles localized destruction, but its roots and effects also extend beyond our borders.  It is a local problem with regional echoes and national implications.  In Vermont we are proactive.  We call all hands to the deck.  We need to keep evaluating to identify what works and what does not.  Other communities and other states can learn from us, and we can learn from their experiences.”

Leahy soon will announce witnesses who are being invited to testify at the hearing.  Vermonters also will be invited to submit written suggestions, observations and testimony before and soon after the hearing to share their ideas and experiences in helping local, state and federal organizations and agencies in finding the most effective approaches to break the addiction cycle.

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