Kirkland, Washington – October 3, 2023
U.S. Representative Suzan Delbene, representing Washington’s 1st congressional district, has revealed the allocation of nearly $1.3 million in federal funding for the establishment of a comprehensive substance use treatment program at the Kirkland City Jail. This vital initiative is in response to the escalating drug and narcotic violations observed in the City of Kirkland since 2021.
The source of this $1.3 million federal funding has been confirmed, although specific details regarding its origin have not been disclosed at this time.
Delbene’s announcement coincides with an alarming surge in drug-related offenses within the City of Kirkland. Comparing data from 2020 to 2021, drug violations increased by a staggering 61%, rising from 64 cases in 2020 to 103 cases in 2021. This worrying trend continued into 2022, with a total of 167 drug violations recorded.
Data presented to the Kirkland City Council on September 19, 2023, reveals that during the first half of 2023, the Kirkland Police Department documented 76 drug and narcotic violations.
To address this pressing issue, the city is set to utilize federal funds to establish an evidence-based substance abuse program within its correctional facilities. This program will encompass a range of essential components, including comprehensive screenings, on-site treatment options, and well-structured reentry planning for inmates grappling with substance use disorders.
The primary goal of this initiative, as outlined in the press release, is to reduce the recurrence of drug-related offenses, mitigate the incidence of overdose cases, and alleviate the broader impacts of substance abuse within the Kirkland community.
Representative Suzan Delbene voiced her endorsement for the initiative, underlining the vital importance of equipping incarcerated individuals with the resources required to address addiction and support their effective reintegration into society. In a statement issued on a Saturday, Delbene stated, “People in our jails and prisons are disproportionately living with substance use issues while also lacking the critical support needed to address these conditions. This new program in Kirkland will help provide incarcerated people with the necessary tools to combat the disease of addiction and better prepare them to reintegrate into society.”
Kirkland Mayor Penny Sweet expressed her approval of the funding as a component of a larger effort focused on closing the divide between public safety and public health. Mayor Sweet highlighted the ongoing drug crisis in the region, underlining the significance of this grant in preventing opioid use disorder and overdose fatalities among community members awaiting legal due process.
The importance of such programs becomes even more apparent when considering the grim statistics for King County. The county has witnessed a disturbing increase in drug overdoses, with data indicating a rise from 417 drug overdose deaths in 2019 to a staggering 1,000 deaths in 2022, marking a distressing 140% surge.
As of the latest available data, there have been 960 reported drug overdoses in King County this year, underscoring the urgent need for interventions like the one being implemented in Kirkland.
This substantial federal funding represents a significant step forward in addressing the intertwined issues of substance abuse and criminal justice in Kirkland. It is hoped that this initiative will not only bring immediate relief to affected individuals but also contribute to the long-term well-being of the community.