WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and David McKinley (R-WV) introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to update and modernize drug and alcohol treatment courts.

Treatment courts unite public health and public safety to transform the justice system’s response to addiction and mental illness by offering an evidence-based alternative to incarceration that combines treatment and accountability. Treatment Courts have led more than 1.5 million people to a path of long-term recovery through programs in all 50 states and four territories. The Treatment Court, Rehabilitation, and Recovery Act updates these programs and ensures that federally supported treatment courts use evidence-based services, adhere to best practice standards, protect public safety, and provide equal access to these life saving programs for those who are eligible to participate.

“As a former prosecutor, I have seen firsthand how treatment courts connect people with the support they need to overcome substance use disorders and mental health challenges,” said Klobuchar. “This legislation will help put non-violent offenders on the path to recovery while reducing crime and saving taxpayer dollars. I’m proud to lead this legislation and will continue working to ensure people have access to life-changing treatment programs.”

“The treatment court system, formerly known as drug courts, has been an effective tool in Mississippi for lowering crime, preventing re-arrests, and saving money for taxpayers,” said Wicker. “Updating federal support for these courts, as proposed in this legislation, would go a long way toward giving more people a second chance instead of being condemned to a life of incarceration.”

“In many cases, people with substance use or mental health disorders need help, not incarceration,” said Lofgren. “Treatment courts resulted from decades of research and have a proven track record, as well as a smaller price tag than other criminal justice programs. By expanding these courts, Congress can simultaneously improve recovery rates in the United States and reduce crime. The Treatment Court, Rehabilitation, and Recovery Act will modernize federal support for treatment courts, specifically by updating the Department of Justice’s grants program, to ensure that there is equal access to evidence-based care, including medication for addiction treatment.”

“As we’ve seen in West Virginia, drug courts lowers crime, reduce drug use, strengthen families, and save taxpayers money,” said McKinley. “By continuing to modernize and support treatment courts, we are helping people break the chains of addiction. Clearly, with a 30% increase in overdose deaths in just the last year, our substance abuse problems need multi-faceted solutions, including well-functioning treatment courts.”

Klobuchar has long led local and national efforts to support people as they overcome addiction. She has been a vocal advocate for drug treatment courts and helped secure federal funding to establish them in Minnesota. In the Senate, she has led efforts with Wicker to increase federal support for drug treatment courts. 

Last year, she introduced bipartisan legislation with Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to increase federal funding to combat addiction and provide further access to recovery and treatment resources. In 2017, she cosponsored a bill to establish a more reliable funding stream to expand access to substance abuse treatment. 

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