Sheriff Koutoujian participates in roundtable hosted by House Bipartisan Heroin and Opioid Task Force

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Alexandria, VA –Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian Middlesex County, MA, represented the National Sheriffs’ Association before the House Bipartisan Task Force on Heroin and Opioids during a roundtable discussion in Washington, D.C focused on medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for incarcerated individuals.

The task force, chaired by Representatives Annie Kuster (D- NH) and Tom MacArthur (R- NJ), is comprised of over 100 members of the U.S. House of Representatives from across the country. 

Sheriff Koutoujian presented on the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office Medication Assisted Treatment And Directed Opioid Recovery (MATADOR) Program which is one of the longest running MAT programs in the country. 

“I want to thank the chairs and members of the task force for the opportunity to participate in today’s discussion,” said Sheriff Koutoujian.  “Everyday sheriffs from across the country are innovating in an effort to address the opioid epidemic that is crippling families and communities from Massachusetts to Ohio, and beyond.”

Speaking on behalf of the NSA, he underscored the importance of flexibility to customize programs that meet the needs of diverse communities across the country and ensures that federal funding gets to the local level without unnecessary restrictions that can impede participation.

Launched in late 2015, MATADOR is a voluntary program for those with opioid use disorders returning to the community following incarceration.  MATADOR, which uses an injectable form of naltrexone, is a multifaceted program that combines enrollment in health insurance with navigation services and critical casework follow-up.

There are many different ways to combat this epidemic, and one that has proven very effective is Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) for individuals who are incarcerated.    There are a couple of keys that must be realized for this to work.  Medicine does not work along.  MAT only works if there is other treatment as well.  That treatment must be available both inside the facility as well as in the community after the person is released and in many parts of the United States, rural communities do not have the resources to provide treatment options for those persons released from the County Jail. 

“The opiate crisis is reaching all corners of the United States.  Sheriffs have a unique view as our jails are severely impacted by the way we intake, and medically treat inmates in urban, suburban and rural jails around the country,” said Sheriff Ben Wolfinger,, Kootenai County, Idaho, President – Western States Sheriffs’ Association

He Continued, “We must remember that our County Jails are short-term detention facilities.  They are not long-term prisons and they are certainly not designed as short-term or long-term treatment facilities.  Solutions must be community based and unique to fit the jurisdiction that is being served.”

About The National Sherriff’s Association:
The National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) is one of the largest associations of law enforcement professionals in the United States, representing more than 3,000 elected sheriffs across the nation, and a total membership of more than 20,000. NSA is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising the level of professionalism among sheriffs, their deputies, and others in the field of criminal justice and public safety. Throughout its seventy-eight year history, NSA has served as an information clearinghouse for sheriffs, deputies, chiefs of police, other law enforcement professionals, state governments and the federal government.