Salt Lake County files lawsuit against opioid drug manufacturers
District Attorney Sim Gill and I announced a lawsuit
has been filed against drug manufacturers that knowingly downplayed the dangerous effects of prescription opioid pills. We are feeling the high-cost of their predatory practices – in the death and destruction opioids are causing families right here in Salt Lake County.
At least one Utahn a day overdoses on opioids – that’s seven each week, 30 a month. That’s the scale of the human tragedy that we’re facing. We are dealing with the same public health crisis that is devastating counties across this country, due to the sales and overdose deaths of highly-addictive opioid pain pills.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in the past 15 years, more than 183,000 people in the U.S. have died from overdoses related to prescription opioids.
Two million more across the country have turned to heroin use.
Although these pills generated billions of dollars in revenue for the drug companies, people who become addicted can’t afford to buy the pills on the street, or get into a substance use treatment program, so for many, the alternative is to buy cheap heroin. Addiction is a terrible illness that does not discriminate –male, female, young, old, white collar, blue collar, high school education or graduate degree—all of those make up the ranks of those who struggle against this disease.
Today’s typical heroin addict, according to the data, starts using at age 23, is more likely to live in the affluent suburbs and was unwittingly led to heroin through painkillers prescribed by a doctor. Parents are burying their children; drug overdoses already kill more Americans under age 50 than anything else. I am heartbroken hearing the stories from residents of death and destruction. It is time for the drug makers to be held accountable.
The complete lawsuit can be found here
First ever Expungement Day
The first ever
Expungement Day served 73 people to help them erase past criminal records, getting them better access to jobs, housing, and education. Those with a criminal record know that it can make life tough. It follows you around and makes it difficult to find safe housing and a good job. It makes it hard to go back to school or get a loan. The people getting their criminal records expunged are law abiding, tax paying citizens who are trying to move forward, but continue to be held back by their past mistakes.
Costs and complicated court systems prevent some people from getting expungements. With Expungement Day, we help remove these barriers. Almost $20 thousand in private donations will pay for fees, and 40 attorneys volunteered their time and expertise to walk people through the process.
At Expungement Day, I got to meet some of the people this initiative directly benefits. Denette Young has been living with a criminal record for far too long. She has paid her debt to society and now wants access to the same opportunities other law abiding citizens have come to expect. This event is about helping Denette and many people like her, to be self-reliant, get good paying jobs and a safe place to live.
See the Expungement Day fact sheet for more information.
District Attorney Sim Gill, Mayor McAdams and Expungement Day client Denette Young
2018 Budget In Brief
The Salt Lake County finance team recently released the Salt Lake County 2018
Budget In Brief that gives an overview of county funds and our 2018 budget
priorities. The Budget In Brief breaks down what can be confusing budget
documents into an easy-to-read format, making the county budget easier to
access and more transparent.
The budget summary provides important financial information,
presenting a clear picture of the county’s financial health. Salt Lake County
is enjoying a strong economy, with jobs increasing by more than 97,000 over the
past 5 ½ years. We balance our budget in a bipartisan fashion and look for
continual improvement in efficient and effective services.
I appreciate our finance team and the County Council who
participate in making tough decisions as we work to get the best return on tax
2018 State of the County address
Today I delivered my 2018 State of the County address. In my speech, I announced the priorities for the year, including transportation and criminal justice initiatives. I also highlighted the county’s progress on behalf of residents in areas of health, education, recreation and infrastructure.
Safe, affordable housing for Operation Rio Grande court clients
Today I visited a sober living home where people in addiction recovery live in safe, affordable housing while they work to get back on their feet. More space is coming on line in homes like the one I visited today, thanks to a new Salt Lake County program, and in partnership with the Department of Workforce Services.
The Sober Living Home Voucher program pays up to $2,000 per person for their housing, under the condition they are in treatment for substance use, and actively seeking work or employed. While in the home, participants are paired with a case manager to help them find work and transportation. It’s this kind of support that someone like Destiny Garcia needs to regain self-sufficiency.
Destiny was arrested during Operation Rio Grande and is the first sober living housing program participant. She will live in the home at no charge, as long as she stays in treatment, actively seeks work, and remains in peer-mentoring opportunities.
As of today, the county has placed 14 people in homes, but that number will grow. Each of these people have unique stories that put them in this situation. But with a little support, they can overcome their challenges and be productive members of our community. More details about the Sober Living Voucher Program are here.
Left to right: Mayor McAdams, Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, Destiny Garcia, Next Level Recovery home owners Michael and Renee Brown