Principal Court Management Consultant
National Center for State Courts
Chief justices of the six New England states sign charter establishing the New England Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative
Williamsburg, Va., March 7, 2019 – The Chief Justices of six New England States recently joined together to form the New England Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative (NE RJOI) which will help state courts better respond to the opioid epidemic. The states include Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. In support of this effort, the six New England state courts have been awarded $1.5 million by the Bureau of Justice Assistance to develop a regional approach and identify solutions regardless of state borders while continuing to support the state specific opioid initiatives.
The NE RJOI will develop a collaborative multi-state response to the opioid epidemic, with a particular focus on the courts. This project will utilize data-driven and sustainable solutions that promote recovery, enhance public safety and support quality of life for individuals, families and communities throughout New England.
A regional response will enhance all six New England states’ ability to respond effectively to the opioid epidemic, which recognizes no borders. Interstate issues such as child custody and probation supervision necessitate organized communication and coordination practices. Combining resources and developing shared strategies will enhance current efforts in each state. The project will allow partner states to share best practices, coordinate and standardize procedures, and spread these upgrades throughout the region. Consistency of policy, communication and action throughout New England will allow for a more targeted, unified response to the opioid epidemic.
The judicial system occupies a critical place in comprehensive efforts to address the opioid crisis. The courts and the criminal justice system are often the last stop for people with addiction who are involved in criminal behavior or other legal matters. Substance use disorders involving prescribed opioids, heroin, fentanyl and its synthetic analogues impact the administration of justice in courthouses throughout New England and across the United States.