Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) announced awards of almost $38 million to fight crime and improve community safety in West Virginia from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Nearly $8 million of the total will support families, children and crime victims affected by the nation’s opioid crisis.
“West Virginia has the highest overdose rate per capita of any state in our nation, and the impacts of this epidemic can be felt by every family, every community and every part of our state. We need all the help we can get for those dealing with substance use disorder so they can receive treatment and we can begin to heal as a state and a nation. I applaud DOJ for their work to combat the opioid crisis in West Virginia and across the nation and thank them for their investment in our state to fight this epidemic. This funding will go a long way in helping combat the opioid crisis, and I look forward to seeing the important work accomplished by this initiative. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue to fight to ensure West Virginia receives the necessary funding to fight the opioid epidemic in every way possible,” said Senator Manchin.
“DOJ has been an invaluable partner in our fight against the opioid epidemic. Their support helps local communities not only track down and prosecute those selling drugs, but also aid those struggling with addiction through drug courts and other services. I’m also pleased to see part of this funding go to mitigating impacts on crime victims and helping those who have experienced crime-related trauma,” said Senator Capito.
West Virginia is the epicenter of the opioid crisis, with the highest age-adjusted rate of opioid overdose deaths in the country. According to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 833 West Virginians lost their lives to opioids in 2017, a rate of 49.6 deaths per 100,000 persons, more than three times the national average. The sharpest increase in opioid-involved overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
A $6.5 million grant to the DCJS will support the Handle With Care initiative, a statewide program that serves children exposed to trauma and violence. Funding also expands the West Virginia Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, or LEAD, program, which steers low-level drug offenders away from prosecution. A third DCJS effort will provide telehealth services, including counseling and medication assisted treatment, to underserved and geographically isolated communities in the state. The remaining $1.5 million in Justice Department grants will support mental health services for at-risk youth in Berkeley County and a research-based peer recovery and data analysis program in the city of Charleston.
West Virginia’s opioid-related grants are part of more than $333 million in Justice Department awards going to states, tribes and communities to combat opioids and other drugs. Most of the funding is made available through the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program, which is designed to reduce opioid abuse and drug-related deaths by helping law enforcement agencies and treatment providers coordinate their response. Additional funds are being directed to address a nationwide increase in the abuse of methamphetamines. Overdose deaths from meth and other psychostimulants rose 25 percent annually between 2015 and 2018. Grants from the Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services support anti-meth task forces aimed at taking down traffickers that supply cheap and highly pure forms of the drug.
The remainder of the state’s awards cover a wide range of criminal justice, juvenile justice and victim service activities. Grants will support school safety initiatives, law enforcement hiring and equipment purchases, services for domestic violence and sexual assault victims, inmate reentry services, DNA analysis, youth mentoring and efforts to combat online child exploitation and manage sex offenders. Awards were made by the three grant-making components of the Department of Justice — OJP, the COPS Office and the Office on Violence Against Women.
A full list of OJP awards, organized under specific grant programs, is available online at https://ojp.gov/funding/Explore/OJPAwardData.htm. For COPS awards, please visit https://cops.usdoj.gov/grants. OVW awards can be found at https://www.justice.gov/ovw/awards.