Legislation aimed to help inmates deal with substance abuse and drug addiction was approved earlier this week by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-3730), which was sponsored by Assemblymen Troy Singleton, D-Mt. Laurel, Charles Mainor, D-Jersey City, and Raj Mukherji, D-Jersey City, would require supervising physicians at state, county and municipal correctional facilities to be trained in helping patients struggling with addiction.
"More than half of the nation's 2.3 million inmates have substance abuse and addiction problems, but only 11 percent received treatment for their addictions," Singleton said in a press release announcing the legislation's approval by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.
The bill has since been referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
"Failing to treat inmates with addiction problems while they are imprisoned is a wasted opportunity," said Mainor. "If they come out the same way they came in, with no intervention, there is a greater chance that they will relapse and revert to the behavior that landed them in prison in the first place, which not only impacts their own health, but the resources of the state."
The bill would require physicians who have primary supervisory authority over other medical personnel at state, county, or municipal facilities to have a subspecialty board certification in addiction psychiatry from the American Board of Medical Specialties, an addiction certification from the American Society of Addiction Medicine, or a subspecialty board certification in addiction medicine from the American Osteopathic Association.
Physician could also complete no less than eight hours of training on the treatment and management of opioid-addicted patients. The training would be provided by an organization chosen by the Commissioner of Health.
"Locking up people with addictions without treating them before release is counterproductive," Mukherji stated.
"By requiring supervising physicians to be appropriately trained in the area of addiction treatment, we will equip these facilities to manage the growing population of inmates with addiction so that they don't recidivate," he added.