Kansas to receive federal funds to fight opioid epidemic

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The Department of Justice will award $58.8 million to drug court programs in an effort to address the opioid epidemic, according to a release from the DoJ Friday afternoon.

The 2016 estimate "would be the highest drug death toll and the fastest increase in that death toll in American history", Sessions said.

Almost 60,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016, an increase from the estimated 52,000 in 2015. "And every day this crisis grows", Sessions said in Harrisburg.

The bulk of the money, roughly $44 million, will go to local governments to help divert those affected by the opioid epidemic from entering prison, as well as alternatives to incarceration - $22.2 million of that funding will fund jurisdictions with drug courts and Veterans Treatment Courts.

"In my home state of Alabama, we have had more painkiller prescriptions than Alabamians for over a decade", Sessions said during his Friday speech.

The funds were awarded under the Office of Justice Programs' Bureau of Justice Assistance's Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program and the Harold Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

The City of Wichita will receive nearly $400,000 from the Adult Drug Court and Veterans Treatment Courts Grant program.

An additional $3.1 million will be awarded for research on drugs and crime, prioritizing research into heroin, other opioids, and synthetic drugs. The funds would also nudge juvenile drug treatment courts to follow appropriate guidelines.

In March, Trump named New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a former presidential candidate, to head the newly formed President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

"With approximately 142 Americans dying every day, America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks", the commission said in an interim report.

The letter noted that declaring a national emergency would allow Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to "negotiate reduced pricing for all governmental units".

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