BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Two months after it started, the one-of-its-kind opiate treatment court in Buffalo is a huge success, according to Erie County District Attorney John Flynn.
"We're obviously having success, and there's no doubt in my mind this is going to be a model for not only the rest of the county, but for the nation," Flynn said.
As first reported by the Associated Press, Flynn confirmed 80 people have entered the program, and not a single one of those suspects has had an overdose. Prior to this specialized court, Flynn said there would be 1-2 people per week in the criminal court system in Erie County who would overdose.
"I'm going to do whatever I can to get low-level offenders, those who aren't career criminals, the help that they need," Flynn said.
Flynn also touted the enrollment numbers. Officials set a goal of having 200 people complete the program in the first year. To already have 80 people in the program only two months in far exceeds expectations, he said.
"I think the numbers tell the tale here, Mike," Flynn told 2 On Your Side's Michael Wooten.
This court is currently restricted to opiate addicts who are arrested and processed at Buffalo Police lockup. Flynn hopes it can be expanded far beyond the city.
"Logistics are going to be difficult, but let's get there," Flynn said. "Let's do it in Buffalo here first. This is the first in the country."
The program is funded by a grant from the U.S. Justice Department with the goal of creating a program that can be replicated.
Flynn said cost will be an issue, because to do this program county-wide, for instance, would require intake and screening workers to be located at each and every lockup and court, both big and small. There are dozens of such facilities around our area.
"Once we get it up and running in the City of Buffalo, then we can logistically figure out how to do it throughout the county," Flynn said.
Flynn also pointed out his approach is two-fold. He wants to get treatment for those people addicted to opiates while also prosecuting the drug dealers.
He recently announced a grand jury indicted a man on manslaughter charges for providing opiates that were used in a deadly overdose.
"If I can put a drug dealer away for murder and get him or her off the streets, then I'm saving lives as well," Flynn said.