WASHINGTON, D.C. —Congressman Mike Turner recently joined Reps. Annie Kuster (D-NH), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN) to reintroduce H.R. 5697, the Community Re-Entry through Addiction Treatment to Enhance (CREATE) Opportunities Act. This legislation works to expand access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for individuals in incarceration and would create a new grant program within the Department of Justice for state and local governments to provide MAT in their correctional facilities. 

“Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic severely worsened the opioid epidemic in Ohio and drug-related deaths increased,” said Congressman Mike Turner. “Incarcerated individuals, who disproportionately suffer from addiction, currently lack a viable path to recovery. This legislation will provide them critical treatment in hopes of reintegrating them back into their communities,” concluded Turner.

“Far too many justice-involved individuals in our jails suffer from untreatental health and substance use disorder, and most lack access to the treatment they need,” said Rep. Kuster, founder, and co-chair of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force. “Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) has an important role to play in helping incarcerated individuals suffering from substance use disorder recover and reclaim their lives to become productive, contributing members of our society. Reducing recidivism is a win-win for our communities: it’s good for public safety, public health, and local and state budgets. The CREATE Opportunities Act is common-sense legislation to provide an evidence-based solution to put an end to the cycle between addiction and the criminal justice system, and I am proud to reintroduce it.”

“While we continue to work together as a nation to address the opioid and heroin epidemic, I urge my colleagues to provide the evidence-based, medication-assisted treatment and recovery services we know work during incarceration and after release,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester. “We have already lost so many of our loved ones due to a lack of appropriate care in our criminal justice system. We must prioritize the resources correctional facilities need so we don’t lose generations to come. I applaud my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for taking this important step to addressing a crucial part of this crisis.”

“The deadly opioid epidemic is devastating communities in Indiana and across the country. Combating this crisis requires a team effort to advance prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts,” said Congresswoman Walorski. “State, county, and local law enforcement agencies must have access to the tools and resources they need to combat the opioid crisis. I am proud to champion this bipartisan solution to support evidence-based solutions to treat addiction, make our communities safer, and save lives.”

The text of the legislation can be viewed here.