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September 28, 2021

Pressley Statement on Sheriff Tompkins’s Mass and Cass Proposal

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) issued the following statement on reports of a proposal by Suffolk County Sheriff Tompkins to involuntarily commit people living at “Mass. and Cass” to a repurposed detention center.

“Substance use disorder is a public health crisis. That is why public health officials, not law enforcement officers, should drive the decision-making process for a comprehensive solution to combat the substance use crisis that tears at the fabric of communities across the country, including those in the Massachusetts 7th.

“Involuntary commitment to repurposed prison facilities is not the answer to the ongoing crisis at Mass. and Cass. Particularly in light of the devastating deaths of multiple people in custody and pre-trial detention at South Bay. Our neighbors struggling with addiction deserve care, rehabilitation and treatment from trained health professionals and safe, stable housing to support their successful recovery.

“I have fought for these investments at the federal and local levels and will continue to empower public health experts as we collectively combat this crisis. We must address the acute trauma experienced by those struggling with addiction as a public health issue, and take necessary steps to ensure the health and safety of all of our neighbors in the area. That means leading with compassion and care, not criminalization. I support a regional approach to comprehensive services and will continue to fight for investments at the federal level to support necessary and long-overdue coordinated municipal efforts.”

Earlier this year, Rep. Pressley re-introduced the People’s Justice Guarantee, her comprehensive vision for a just and equitable criminal legal system that calls for ending the criminalization of addiction.

Rep. Pressley is also a co-sponsor of the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, the most ambitious legislation ever introduced in Congress to confront the opioid and substance use epidemic, and co-led the introduction of the People’s Response Act, which directs the federal government to take a health-centered approach to public safety and investing in trauma-informed, community-based responses that will truly keep people safe.

This summer, Rep. Pressley successfully advanced $1,000,000 in federal community project funding for the Dimock Center to increase substance use treatment and programming for Roxbury residents.  She toured the Dimock Center and discussed the importance of this funding in June.

In H.R. 4502, which includes the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill, Rep. Pressley was successful in including more than $5.5 billion to fund opioid prevent and treatment, including $69.5 million – a $56.5 million increase over the previous fiscal year – to support Syringe Services Programs, community-based prevention programs that provide a range of services to treat substance use disorder. The bill also invests in opioid abuse harm reduction strategies by removing a prohibition on federal funds being used to purchase syringes.





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