2018 Fatal Overdose Victims and the Criminal Justice System Report ReleasedPosted: 12/02/2019
From the desk of District Attorney General Charme P. Allen:
When I took office in 2014, our community was starting to feel the irreversible side effects of the opioid crisis in our community – overdose deaths. As the Knox County District Attorney and as a career prosecutor, I know substance misuse is not new to our community. However, the scope of the opioid epidemic is unlike anything we have experienced.
In 2017, I helped create the Drug Related Death Task Force with Appalachia HIDTA, Knox County Regional Forensic Center, Knox County Sheriff’s Office, Knoxville Police Department, and United States Drug Enforcement Administration to reduce the rising number of drug-related deaths in Knox County. The task force has since grown to include other East Tennessee agencies. This partnership not only strengthened law enforcement’s ability to stop dangerous drug traffickers from operating in our community but also created new avenues to gather, share, and analyze data. For the past three years, data analyzed by the District Attorney’s Office has revealed connections between individuals who overdose and the criminal justice system. This data has consistently demonstrated an opportunity for prevention, intervention, and treatment either within or in step with the criminal justice system. This data has also helped other agencies in our community obtain additional resources to fight this epidemic. The criminal justice system was designed to control and prevent crime; it was not designed to treat addiction, which means we must work together to find ways to be tough on crime and smart on prevention.
In partnership with the community, we have experienced success in recent years by reducing access to dangerous drugs and the illegal distribution of prescription drugs. We have introduced innovative prevention initiatives and jail-based and community-based treatment opportunities. These efforts have taught us a great deal, and this information will help us continue to reduce the impact of substance misuse in our community. Together, we can reduce crime and victimization, and we can reclaim lives not yet lost to the drug epidemic.
The Fatal Overdose Victims and the Criminal Justice System report details connections between law enforcement and individuals who passed away from a drug overdose in 2018 and includes data from 2016 and 2017 for comparison. My office will use this data to guide our current initiatives and next steps. We invite you to do the same. Please find the latest report at www.knoxcounty.org/dag.
Thank you for your desire to create a safer and healthier community!
Charme P. Allen
District Attorney General
6th Judicial District