New Study Finds Inequitable Distribution of Federal Funding Across States to Address the Opioid Crisis in Justice Settings

Findings from JCOIN’s Coordination and Translation Center (CTC) and Methodology and Advanced Analytics Resource Center (MAARC)

A new study published in the Journal of Substance Use and Addiction Treatment (JSAT) found that more than $590 million was allocated to states across 517 grants by 10 federal agencies to address the intersection of OUD and the justice system in fiscal year 2019. Prior research by Katcher and Ruhm (2021) shows that $5.19 billion was allocated to states by the federal government to address the opioid overdose crisis generally in fiscal year 2018, which the current study finds is equivalent to roughly 11.4% of all federal funding targeted to OUD in justice systems specifically. If this allocation was based on need—proxied by the extent of opioid overdose mortality and drug-related arrests in a state—the authors found that roughly one-third of federal funding would need to be reallocated to less funded states to meet the needs of states more severely impacted by the opioid crisis. About half of states received less than $100 dollars per capita in the justice-involved population to address the opioid crisis in justice settings and 25% of states received less than $42 per capita in the justice-involved population.

Led by Dr. Samantha Harris at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and colleagues from the University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs, the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, and the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, the findings suggest that funding should be more evenly distributed across states based on opioid severity. The project is part of JCOIN’s Coordination and Translation Center (CTC) and Methodology and Advanced Analytics Resource Center (MAARC), with support from the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). This study used publicly available data from government databases to determine the amount of federal funding being directed to states to address the opioid overdose crisis for individuals that are justice-involved with opioid use disorder.

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This summary is based on the findings from the following publication:

Harris, S. J., Abraham, A. J., Lozano-Rojas, F., Negaro, S., Andrews, C. M., & Grogan, C. M. (2023). Allocation of federal funding to address the opioid overdose crisis in the criminal legal system. Journal of substance use and addiction treatment, 150, 209064. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.josat.2023.209064