By Ali Shana
Allocating Money for Wisconsin
On Dec. 13, the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs announced awards totaling more than $333 million to combat the national opioid epidemic. Wisconsin alone will be receiving more than $10 million – with roughly $2 million earmarked for the Western District and $8.5 million for the Eastern District.
The Eastern District of Wisconsin was awarded $2,076,810 in total, divided among the following awardees: The Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division ($1,199,999), Washington County ($500,000), and Waukesha County ($376,811).
The Western District of Wisconsin was awarded $8,498,212 in total to the following: Wisconsin Department of Justice ($5 million), City of Madison ($1.2 million), Barron County ($646,951), Juneau County ($600,000), and the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians ($551,170).
“Too many families in Wisconsin have suffered the loss of loved ones to the opioid crisis,” said United States Attorney Matthew D. Krueger. “The awards being announced here underscore the Department’s commitment to supporting a comprehensive approach to fighting the opioid crisis.”
Plans to Help Chippewa Indian Community
Being the only mentioned awardees that are explicitly a minority group, it’s important to carefully examine how federal initiatives will affect the Lake Superior Chippewa Bands in Wisconsin.
The $551,170 earmarked to the Chippewa jurisdiction falls under category one of the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program, which reads:
“Category 1 is designed to encourage and support the development of comprehensive, locally driven responses to the opioid epidemic that expand access to supervision, treatment and recovery support services across the criminal justice system; support law enforcement and other first responder diversion programs for non-violent drug offenders; promote education and prevention activities; and address the needs of children impacted by the opioid epidemic. All projects are expected to involve multiple agencies and partners.”
Compared to the other categories within this program, the money spent on helping the afflicted Lake Superior Chippewa Bands community will not be a push towards harsher law enforcement (which is the case for West Virginia). In fact, the Department of Justice’s press release states that a majority of the funding will go towards recovery programs, including jail-based treatment/rehabilitation for addicts.
On top of the $551,170 set aside for the Chippewa community, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) awarded the Institute of Intergovernmental Research $17.6 million with $2.5 million reserved for “tribal responses to the opioid epidemic.”
This is good news for the Wisconsin Chippewa community, who just last year filed a lawsuit against drug manufacturers for escalating the impact of the epidemic. Richard Monette, former chair of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa/Ojibwe/Anishinaabe Nation and current UW-Madison law professor, spoke to the direness of the drug’s impact.
“Opioids, like anything else, have a tendency to find Indian reservations,” said Monette. “People are [selling opioids] to buy bread and milk.”
To learn more about the fight against the opioid epidemic, and it’s new funding, visit the Office of Justice Department’s newsroom website.