BATON ROUGE, LA – More than a year after creating the Drug
and Specialty Court Commission, the Louisiana Legislature has given final
passage to SB 145 by Senator Rick Ward – a bill that expands and improves drug
and specialty courts across the State. As Chairman of the Drug and Specialty
Courts Commission, Attorney General Jeff Landry applauded the Legislature and
its dedication to true criminal justice reform.
“In an overwhelming, bipartisan manner – the Louisiana House of Representatives voted to repair the damage caused by the opioid epidemic and to improve the safety of all our State's citizens,” said Attorney General Landry. “This bipartisan criminal justice reform will help reduce crime, reduce recidivism, and reduce drug abuse while making our communities safer and saving our hard-earned tax dollars.”
As Commission Chairman, Attorney General Landry led a coalition of stakeholders to produce SB 145 – including representatives from the Louisiana Supreme Court, Highway Safety Commission, Public Defenders Board, District Judges Association, Police Jury Association, Sheriffs Association, District Attorneys Association, and Legislature. He emphasized that once signed by the Governor, the law will not only increase the number of arrestees evaluated for suitability but also increase program availability, capacity, and quality.
“Drug courts reduce crime, reduce drug abuse, and reduce costs to taxpayers; and they improve community and personal health by prioritizing things like education, employment, family reunification, financial stability, and housing,” explained Attorney General Landry. “By investing into drug courts the recoveries from those profiting from the opioid epidemic, Louisiana will directly attack the effects of the crisis – saving families and their loved ones from the deadly cycle of addiction and incarceration.”
SB 145 creates a Drug and Specialty Court fund in the state treasury to deposit compensation recovered from opioid manufacturers, marketers, and sellers who stoked the fire of the epidemic. The fund would be disbursed to state and local entities which provide and enable treatment courts across Louisiana.
“Drug and specialty courts hold people accountable and connect them to evidence-based treatment – something that protects public safety and promotes public health,” continued Attorney General Landry. “By prioritizing early intervention and empowering proven programs, we can save lives and build a better future for our children.”
SB 145 is the latest of many attempts by Attorney General Landry to combat the opioid epidemic in Louisiana. In addition to investigations and lawsuits against those who helped create and prolong the crisis, he has lobbied Congress for more stringent oversight of opioid manufacturers and distributors. Attorney General Landry has also partnered with the Louisiana Ambulance Alliance to create the “End the Epidemic LA” informational campaign. Through a legal settlement, he has made Naloxone available to Louisiana's first responders – at no cost to their agencies. Additionally, Attorney General Landry has joined Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana and the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators to place drug take back boxes throughout the State. And he has entered into partnership with hospice organizations to provide them with drug deactivation pouches so nurses can safely dispose of drugs left over from their patients.
“The opioid epidemic rages on but so does my commitment to end it and hold responsible those who contributed to the opioid abuse, misuse, and addiction that have destroyed so many Louisiana families,” concluded Attorney General Landry. “I am grateful for the support by our Legislature in this cause, and I look forward to the Governor signing SB 145 into law as soon as possible.”
The Senate Judiciary C Committee unanimously passed SB 145 on April 19. The full Senate passed the bill by a vote of 37-0 on April 26. The House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice unanimously passed SB 145 on May 19. The full House passed the bill by a vote of 94-0 on May 27.