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Kentucky Court of Justice to launch RESTORE initiative to help courts address opioid epidemic

The Kentucky Court of Justice will kick off a new initiative to help judges, circuit court clerks and court personnel further address Kentucky’s opioid epidemic.

The Responsive Education to Support Treatment in Opioid Recovery Efforts (RESTORE) initiative will launch with a news conference on April 11 at 1:30 p.m. EDT. The public and media are invited to attend this event, which will take place in the Supreme Courtroom, State Capitol, 2nd Floor, 700 Capital Ave., Frankfort.

“The opioid epidemic has placed a severe strain on the courts and substance use disorders have taken a toll on individuals and families throughout the commonwealth,” Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. said. “We want to give our judges, circuit court clerks and court staff the training and resources they need to effectively handle opioid-related cases. By working together, we can make a difference for Kentuckians affected by substance use disorders.”

The Administrative Office of the Courts is carrying out the RESTORE initiative as a sub-recipient of a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The grant was awarded to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services as part of the collaborative Kentucky Opioid Response Effort.

Minton said the opioid epidemic has hit Kentucky particularly hard, with the state’s overdose death rates among the top in the nation. “The good news is that Kentucky’s outcomes are finally beginning to improve,” he said. “Opioid-related drug charges are declining, opioid-related overdose deaths are down and access to medication assisted treatment is up. The bad news is that there were still nearly 8,000 heroin-related charges and more than 1,000 overdose deaths related to opioids in the state last year. We still have much work to do.”

After the news conference on April 11, Kentucky judges and court staff will be invited to attend two one-day summits in 2019, which will be offered in each of Kentucky’s seven appellate districts. The RESTORE Leadership Team is responsible for planning these events. The team consists of nine judges from Circuit, Family and District courts; a circuit court clerk; and representatives from the AOC Departments of Family & Juvenile Services, Pretrial Services and Specialty Courts.

In addition to Minton, those speaking at the news conference will be:

-Wendy Morris, Commissioner, Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities, Cabinet for Health and Family Services

-Van Ingram, Executive Director, Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, Justice & Public Safety Cabinet

-Family Court Judge Janie McKenzie-Wells, 24th Judicial Circuit

-Nancy Hale, President/CEO, Operation UNITE

-Shannon Adams, Medical Surgical Unit Director, Saint Joseph-London and Drug Court Graduate

From Administrative Office of the Courts

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