New Jersey's 2nd Legislative District

Senator Chris Brown

Senator Chris Brown

Brown Bill Package Creates Hope for Atlantic County Residents

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A comprehensive bill package, sponsored by Senator Chris Brown combats the opioid crisis and helps Atlantic County families get back on their feet.

“One of the areas that needs to be addressed is the cost of treatment, which is daunting to many Atlantic County families,” Brown said. “That’s why I sponsored the law that requires insurance companies to cover 180 days of inpatient drug addiction treatment.”

Senator Chris Brown meets with Stop the Heroin organization leaders and volunteers. (@ChrisBrownNJ)

Sen. Chris Brown explained that a person’s chances of backsliding into addition increases when they are without housing, a network of social support, or a productive career.

Currently, two local organizations, the Hansen Foundation and Stop the Heroin, are combating the opioid crisis by supporting sober living homes. However, State regulations make it difficult for these homes to operate.

In response, Senator Brown has introduced two bipartisan bills that would update the current regulations that govern sober living homes.

The legislation would provide additional support to innovative programs, such as the Hansen Foundation and Stop the Heroin that are designed to aid sober living homes. The bills would also enable the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency to provide low to zero interest loans to establish new sober living facilities.

When he served as a municipal court judge and prosecutor, Sen. Chris Brown heard many parents plead with him to send their children to jail, just so they could get treatment. Brown noted that many families believed that jail was the last chance for their son or daughter to get clean and sober.

“Sadly, despite constant pleas from loving family members, many of the individuals I saw during my time in court often refused to enter rehab,” Senator Brown said. “My bipartisan bill would help individuals who have become a harm to themselves or others, by allowing a family member could petition the court to require their loved one to enter a treatment program. By using the current mental health involuntary commitment hearing process, we can ensure people coping with substance abuse finally get the help they need.”

“The first step toward recovery is also the hardest. Involuntary commitment would give families the chance to save a loved one,” Bill Schmincke, the founder of Stop the Heroin, added.

Additionally, the creation of mandatory recovery court, formerly known “as drug court,” has helped a number of families statewide overcome drug dependencies. Recovery court programs use intensive supervision, along with tightly structured regimens of treatment and recovery services.

Brown noted that we can save more individuals by expanding access to recovery courts, which is why he has also proposed a bipartisan bill that would allow defendants who were previously convicted of low level assaults to enter recovery court.

“It’s not just criminal courts that are seeing an increase in drug cases – municipal courts are also seeing a shocking uptick,” Brown said. “Currently, municipal court judges are able to send people who are arrested for alcohol intoxication to treatment. However, judges are currently barred from offering the same opportunity to those who arrested for drug offenses. That is unconscionable. We must allow municipal court judges to provide the same lifesaving treatment options to people coping with drug addiction.”

“I believe that recovery does not end when a person leaves treatment,” Senator Chris Brown added. “The final piece to help a person get back on their feet is helping them find a job.”

Currently, Atlantic County’s largest employer is the casino industry. However, individuals that have certain drug offenses are automatically disqualified from applying for a job.

“A person who successfully completes recovery court deserve a second chance,” Brown said. “That is why I am sponsoring a bipartisan bill that would allow those who complete recovery court to qualify for a license to work in the casinos.”

Senator Brown also proudly voted for The HOPE Initiative, which educates the public about the dangers and causes of heroin and opioid addiction.

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