PRS STUDENTS TESTIFY BEFORE THE VERMONT HOUSE COMMITTEE ON CORRECTIONS AND INSTITUTIONS
On Thursday, February 22, 2018, Class of 1964 Policy Research Shop students Nicole Beckman ’20, Hanna Bliska ’20, and Eliza Jane Schaeffer ’20 travelled to Montpelier to testify before the Vermont House Committee on Corrections and Institutions. The students spent the fall and winter terms researching and drafting their report, “Medication Assisted Treatment Programs in Vermont State Correctional Facilities,” (PRS Policy Brief 1718-03) at the request of Committee Chair Alice Emmons and Vice Chair “Butch” Shaw.
In their testimony the students described the basic approaches to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for those with substance use disorders, and the current infrastructure for delivering such treatment in Vermont. They then utilized a case study approach to examine the successes and failures of existing MAT programs in five other state corrections systems: Missouri, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Rhode Island. Under extensive questioning by committee members who were grateful to receive the briefing, the students outlined several areas in which Vermont might consider adjusting its MAT program. Among the areas suggested for consideration of policy adjustments are the possibility of Vermont expanding its Interim Maintenance Treatment (IM) to a full Opioid Treatment Program (OTP), which all five case study states have implemented, and the adjustment of medication options to place greater emphasis on antagonists that block the action of opioids, similar to the approaches of the comparison states. Other considerations include expanding treatment time for some, and forming research partnerships to help document the cost savings associated with reduced recidivism and crime that other states have demonstrated with respect to their MAT programs.