Suffolk County District Attorney Candidate Would Increase Access to Drug Treatment Programs At the Courthouse, Take Active Role in Getting People into Recovery Programs
BOSTON – Today, candidate for Suffolk County District Attorney Greg Henning announced his plan to fight the opioid epidemic in Suffolk County by stationing accessible drug treatment providers at courthouses, expanding drug court sessions to every district court, investigating overdose cases to remove deadly drugs from the street, and taking an active role in advocating for treatment options.
“In my ten years as an assistant district attorney, I’ve seen the effects of the opioid epidemic while working with victims and defendants. We must do a better job of getting people treatment and guiding them to recovery resources, rather than punishing them for their addiction or leaving them to fend for themselves,” said Greg Henning. “The District Attorney’s Office has a unique opportunity to provide help immediately after people come in contact with the criminal justice system for drug possession offenses. With drug treatment providers stationed at the courthouse, those suffering from addiction would be offered immediate medical assistance, be provided with help accessing recovery programs, and begin working toward treatment at the moment they need it most.”
Greg’s plan would be to station recovery coaches and addiction specialists from programs like Road to Recovery at courthouses right outside of arraignment sessions. Greg’s office would seek to routinely divert people charged with drug possession crimes out of the courts and into drug treatment programs. Before heading out of court, those suffering from addiction would go through an intake process with a trained recovery professional, rather than being left to fend for themselves and arrange for treatment on their own.
Greg would also seek to expand the drug court sessions currently being used in courthouses throughout Massachusetts. These sessions work with treatment providers to put those suffering from addiction on a path to recovery. These courts enlist a person’s family and their community to address the problem of addiction, a method that has already proven to be successful in Suffolk County, but is still absent from some of our courts. Greg would work with the trial court so that every one of the district courts has an available drug court session.
“Choosing to merely ‘not prosecute’ people arrested for drug possession offenses would be irresponsible in the midst of such a severe crisis,” said Henning. “As the office that is often the first government institution to have contact with someone struggling with addiction, we should do more, not less.”
In addition to increasing access to drug treatment programs at the courthouse, Greg’s plan includes a proposal to put resources toward investigating fatal overdose cases in order to identify who sold drugs to the victim, find the source of particularly deadly batches of heroin or fentanyl, and remove those deadly drugs from the street. As District Attorney, Greg would also lobby the legislature for better, more readily available drug treatment options in Suffolk County, especially an increase in the number of treatment facilities and beds for those suffering from addiction. Greg would be an advocate for the reopening of the Long Island Shelter and rebuilding of the bridge to access that facility.
“We see the effects of the opioid epidemic everywhere. In 2006, one of my closest friends ended up behind bars for a crime designed to feed his addiction. I watched him suffer the effects of withdrawal while he sat inside of a prison cell. As an assistant district attorney, I’ve consoled a mother and father begging me to request bail to hold their son overnight. They knew this was the only way to keep him off the street and away from drugs until they could locate an available bed at a treatment facility. I have worked with victims and witnesses who asked for help with their own addiction, not knowing where else they could turn,” said Henning. “The District Attorney’s Office comes into contact with thousands of people suffering from drug addiction each year, and we can use our power to proactively guide those struggling toward treatment.”
Greg’s full opioid plan is available at www.greghenning.com/opioidplan/. It’s the third policy plan released by Henning, following a plan to fully staff a countywide Unsolved Shootings Unit that would investigate nonfatal shootings and remove more guns from our streets; and a plan to create a mentorship program called Law Enforcement Early Diversion, or LEED, which would pair law enforcement professionals, such as Assistant District Attorneys and police officers, with young people throughout Suffolk County.
The Democratic Primary for the open race to replace outgoing Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley is on Tuesday, September 4, and the General Election is on Tuesday, November 6.
About Greg Henning
For ten years, Greg has worked as an assistant district attorney in the Suffolk County DA’s office, including time as head of the Gun Prosecution Task Force and as head of the Gang Unit, which is focused on shootings and other violent crimes in Suffolk County. In addition to his work at the DA’s office, Greg built a reputation as a beloved teacher and mentor in the community, and his career has been marked by a deep passion for reaching young people.
In 2009, Greg started volunteering, coaching, and tutoring at College Bound Dorchester. He left the DA’s office in 2011 to become a teacher at Boston Preparatory Charter Public School in Hyde Park, teaching eighth grade English and twelfth grade constitutional law. Even after he returned to the DA’s office in 2013, he remained a consistent part of his students’ lives.
Son of Boston news reporter John Henning, Greg grew up in Boston, graduated from Harvard in 2002 with a degree in Government, and received his juris doctorate in 2005 from the University of Virginia School of Law. He completed a clerkship for the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Macon, Georgia, before returning to Boston to begin work as a prosecutor. Greg lives in Dorchester with his girlfriend, who is a special education teacher in Boston.
You can read more about Greg Henning and his vision for Suffolk County at his website www.greghenning.com.