Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said a newly formed prescription drug abuse task force will examine whether special problem-solving courts may be a venue for fighting prescription painkiller abuse.
Zoeller announced the initiative in a statement Friday, a day after he attended a graduation ceremony for defendants who successfully completed the Adult Drug Court program in Clark Superior Court 2 in Jeffersonville, where Judge Jerry Jacobi presides.
“In supporting greater resources for specialty courts, one of my goals will be to examine the effectiveness and possible expansion of drug courts, veteran courts and other problem-solving courts that recognize the underlying root causes of some crimes and help offenders to resolve them,” Zoeller said in a statement. “This approach gives certain types of offenders the opportunity and motivation to live productive, crime-free lives in the future.
“In addition to the problems with illegal drugs, prescription painkiller abuse is an epidemic according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Zoeller said. “We must focus on treatment and alternatives to incarceration as a priority, and the possible expansion of drug courts could play an important role. I believe this is a worthwhile concept that the Legislature should have the opportunity to learn more about.”
On Sept. 24, Zoeller announced formation of a prescription drug abuse task force to examine the problem of abuse and diversion of addictive prescription medications. The group consists of 60 people representing law enforcement, public health, the legislative branch, social services and pharmacists.
The task force, which Zoeller chairs, will recommend changes to state laws and regulations in advance of the 2013 session of the Indiana General Assembly. Smaller committees within the task force will study specific issues. Zoeller said the task force will look at using specialty court supervision programs such as drug courts in the treatment of prescription drug abuse and addiction. If those are found effective, then the task force would offer recommendations on how such programs might be developed in counties where they don’t exist.