UPDATE: Sen. Manchin introduces 2 bills to help people recover from substance abuse

Sen. Joe Manchin/(D) West Virginia
Sen. Joe Manchin/(D) West Virginia(WHSV)
Published: Mar. 3, 2017 at 2:33 PM EST
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W.Va. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin introduced 2 bills in the U.S. Senate on Friday that will help people recover from drug addiction and live reformed lives.

A new bill introduced by Senator Manchin is the Clean Start Act, which will give recovering addicts who committed nonviolent federal offenses because of their addictions a “clean start” and a chance to build a sober lifestyle, free of a criminal record, if they complete a yearlong drug treatment program.

The Clean Start Act will allow people with a federal felony or misdemeanor conviction for a past nonviolent crime committed as a result of drug addiction an opportunity to have their criminal record sealed after undergoing comprehensive addiction treatment and demonstrating a commitment to their recovery. Specifically, this bill will authorize a person with a felony or misdemeanor conviction for a nonviolent crime to petition a federal court to seal the person’s criminal record if the person does two things:

1. Successfully completes a one-year substance abuse treatment program or recovery support program that is licensed or certified by a State or national accreditation body, including peer-driven and sober-living programs; and

2. Provides six months of service as a drug addiction recovery mentor, or six months of volunteer service in their community.

To ensure this opportunity is targeted towards those genuinely committed to their own recovery, a person may petition the court only one time to request sealing and must provide all necessary documentation that they have successfully completed the drug treatment program and provided the requisite mentorship service. In considering the sealing petition, the reviewing court will take all relevant information into account, including any relevant information submitted by the original prosecutor. Persons with criminal convictions for crimes of violence, crimes against children, and sex offenders are specifically excluded from the coverage of this measure. The measure provides direct relief to persons with federal convictions and also includes incentives that encourage states to adopt comparable programs that allow record sealing for former addicts with state-level convictions for nonviolent crimes.

Also on Friday, Senator Manchin re-introduced the Budgeting for Opioid Addiction Treatment Act (LifeBOAT Act) to the U.S. Senate.

The LifeBOAT Act would establish a permanent funding stream to provide and expand access to substance abuse treatment across the U.S..

It would establish a 1 cent stewardship fee on each milligram of active opioid ingredient in a prescription pain pill to fund efforts to provide and expand access to substance abuse treatment. The bill also includes a rebate program for cancer-related pain and hospice care, and exempts drugs used exclusively for the treatment of opioid addiction. That funding could be used for:

Establishing new addiction treatment facilities, residential and outpatient.

Recruiting and increasing reimbursement for certified mental health providers providing substance abuse treatment.

Expanding access to long-term, residential treatment programs for addicts.

Establishing and/or operating support programs that offer employment services, housing, and other support services to help a recovering addict transition back into society.

Establishing and/or operating facilities to provide care for babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Establishing and/or operating substance abuse treatment programs in conjunction with Adult and Family Treatment Drug Courts.

Senator Manchin said in a statement today:

“A major barrier that those suffering from opioid addiction face is insufficient access to substance abuse treatment. These are people who have recognized that they need help, but have been turned away because there simply weren’t enough facilities, beds, or mental health providers in their community. This legislation will bridge that gap and make sure that we can provide treatment to everyone who makes the decision to get help. I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this bill passed so we can take another step forward in the fight against opioid abuse.”

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