DA: Prevention and treatment essential to prevent overdose deaths
Knox County's District Attorney General Charme Allen says prevention and treatment are key to stopping overdose deaths, and more than half of the 325 people who overdosed from drugs in 2018 were in the justice system.
"Over half of the people who are dying in our community are coming through the system," said Allen. "That makes the criminal justice system an intercept point for these folks. That is an opportunity for prevention, intervention, treatment."
The number of overdose deaths is up 3.2% from 2017 to 2018, according to county statistics, while the increase in deaths was much higher from 2016 to 2017, at 41%.
Allen said the justice system must continue with a balanced approach to being tough on crime while addressing addiction and how to curb it.
The effects of addiction and related crime are felt throughout the community.
Allen said, "So any intervention we can do in treating folks and stopping the addiction, that's stopping the shoplifting, that's stopping the home burglaries, that's stopping the car break-ins, that's stopping the domestic assaults that are the result of addiction, that's stopping the child abuse that's the result of an addiction, on and on and on."