Principal Court Management Consultant
Opioid Task Force launches online resource center
Williamsburg, Va., Feb. 14, 2019 — The Appalachia-Midwest Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative (RJOI), representing the eight states of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia, launched the RJOI website this month. The website is intended to give the judiciary and stakeholders in the participating states a place to share initiatives and practices as well as inform the greater community of the work being done at the state level.
America’s opioid epidemic is a nationwide problem, but the impact on this region has been significant, especially in towns and counties along state borders. At the conclusion of the Regional Judicial Opioid Summit held in 2016, RJOI was formed and is considered the first initiative of its kind where the collective leadership of state courts has come together to address the opioid epidemic at the regional level. The RJOI seeks to leverage local, state, and federal partnerships and resources to explore solutions to an epidemic that is not confined by state borders. RJOI stakeholders are comprised of chief justices, state court administrators, judges, executive branch leaders, legislators, behavioral health treatment providers, community supervision agencies, medical experts, prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) managers, regulatory agencies, child welfare representatives and others. Partners from federal and national organizations, such as the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Casey Family Programs and the National Center for State Courts, also support the initiative.
America’s judicial system occupies a critical place in the quest for solutions to the opioid epidemic. It is also unquestioned that judges play an important role in their local communities to convene partners across the branches of government and the operations of government. There are significant issues that can be addressed by the regional approach to combating opioid use, including to reduce the number of opioids in circulation, track the overprescribing and abuse of the drugs, address regional information sharing issues, provide access to effective treatment for individuals and families in the criminal justice system, and ultimately reduce the number of deaths from opioid overdose and incidences of neonatal abstinence syndrome.
The RJOI website is one of several opportunities to share information across the participating states as well as to a national audience focused on the judicial system as part of the solution of the opioid driven epidemic.