County Justice Council Highlights Overdose Decline

MAYVILLE — The Chautauqua County Community Justice Council emphasized the recent data that revealed an estimated 12 percent decrease of drug-related and overdose deaths.

Overall in 2017, there were 42 drug-related deaths and 38 drug overdose deaths in Chautauqua County with one remaining pending investigation. There have been 10 drug-related deaths along with the eight drug overdose deaths and 14 pending investigations so far in 2018.

George Borrello, Chautauqua County executive, reiterated during the meeting Wednesday that the decline was positive, but his Countywide Alliance for Enforcement and Rehabilitation (CAER), tasked with studying the opioid epidemic, wasn’t sure what caused the decline. He told The Post-Journal previously the numbers would be much clearer in mid-October.

In other news, Patrick Swanson, district attorney, told the council there is an increase in female county jail inmates in 2018. He cited an uptick in drug-related misdemeanor charges as being the cause for the increased female population in county jail.

He said drug-related misdemeanors were up to 600 in 2018 which is more than 2017 and contributing to steady increase of related charges each year.

Prompted by a question from Borrello, Swanson said the drug-related charges mostly dealt with methamphetamine. Christine Schuyler public health director noted there has been steady shift from opioid use to methamphetamine use.

Patrick Johnson, member of the Community Justice Council, told the council about an opportunity to send county employees who deal with offenders to a 180-hour training course in Erie County. The course will train individuals to help offenders re-enter the workforce after their incarceration is over.

The training is spread out over different months and not all at once.

Johnson also called for the council to become more focused and set more goals for the end of year and heading into 2019. He wanted council members to be prepared for that shift by the next meeting in November.

The council also discussed centralized county arraignment that will potentially be hosted at the county jail. The goal is to eliminate arraignment wait times for people charged with crimes. It would also provide the Public Defender’s Office greater accessibility to those charged with a crime and less stress on the attorneys. The centralized arraignment wouldn’t impact Dunkirk or Jamestown.