David Sexton, Intern | Office of Communication, Education & Outreach
National Judicial Opioid Task Force offers recommendations in final report
On November 20, 2019, the National Judicial Opioid Task Force released its final report to the public. The NJOTF was formed in 2017 by resolutions of the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators to study and deliver recommendations on relieving the pressure on state criminal justice systems from the nationwide opioid crisis. Co-chaired by Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush and Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts Director Deborah Taylor Tate, the NJOTF has developed educational resources, tools, and best practices for criminal justice partners and stakeholders.
The report details findings related to the impact of the opioid crisis and the existing resources available to combat it. One critical issue is a lack of information about and access to evidence-based solutions, including medication-based treatment for opioid use disorder.
Children and families are feeling the most significant impacts of the crisis. The report reveals a significant rise in child neglect and maltreatment cases between 2012 and 2016. These cases put more children in foster care and increase caseloads for courts, attorneys, and social workers.
When the criminal justice system becomes involved in the opioid crisis, it is overwhelmingly at the state-level, as 96% of court cases nationwide are filed in state court systems. The report encourages states and state judiciaries to implement proactive reforms to address this crisis and to prepare for potential future crises.
Considering the burden experienced by state-level criminal justice partners, the NJOTF report advocates for judicial leadership and collaboration in tackling the opioid crisis, stating, “The state courts are dedicated to building on our successes, working collaboratively to commit our resources and craft unique solutions that are required to eradicate this national epidemic.”