County Lawmaker Says Legislature Is Spending More Money To Defend Opioid Epidemic

MAYVILLE  – A Chautauqua County lawmaker said when it comes to the opioid epidemic, we are dealing with the tip-of-the-iceberg in terms of all of the problems that it brings. 
“From my personal perspective, I am certainly concerned of the number of tragic deaths that are occurring,” said Legislator Pierre Chagnon. “The impact that these opiates are having on people that have even survived and on their family and their children, it’s just wide ranging.”
At a County Legislator meeting on Wednesday, Chagnon expressed concern about the extra money lawmakers allotted for the Public Defender’s Office to bring several part-time employees to full-time status.
“The issue has been that when there’s a conflict of interest in the Public Defender’s Office with a client, they can’t represent them, so the courts have to appoint an outside council,” said Chagnon. “The cost for those outside councils have far exceeded the budget over the past couple of years.”
The costs associated with suspects being charged for drug-related crime is nothing new, but the toll its taking on the budget are.
“So what we did in the 2018 budget is we gave the Public Defender’s Office more money to bring some of his part-time people to full-time,” said Chagnon.
“There’s a lot of work that our Health and Human Services Department and (its) staff is doing to deal with a lot of the fallout and ramifications of this,” added Chagnon.
Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.