Gillibrand revives bill to end adoption bias

U.S. Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y. File photo

State legislation calling for $25 million in grant funding for substance abuse support systems was introduced Thursday, as residents struggling with addiction continue to face heightened challenges during the pandemic.

The Family Support Services for Addiction Act would provide $25 million in grant funding over five years to nonprofits and community organizations that provide family support services such as caregiver peer support, education and training, systems navigation for families trying to access treatment and other resources, counseling services, support groups for those in crisis and for those who have lost loved ones, and skill-building.

“The pandemic has exacerbated our country’s addiction crisis and we must bolster support services for those seeking treatment and their families, to combat this troubling trend,” U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said. “Equipping families with the resources they need to support loved ones battling addiction and substance-use disorder is essential for recovery, especially during a pandemic that has isolated many families. Passing the Family Support Services for Addiction Act would deliver vital funding for financially strained mental health care and substance-use disorder support programs and ensure resources are available to families helping people recover from substance use.”

The Twin Counties have seen a dramatic increase in overdoses during the pandemic. In 2019, Greene County had 54 total overdoses, 11 of which were fatal. In 2020, Greene County saw a 117% increase to 117 overdoses, nine of which were fatal. Columbia County had 52 overdoses in 2019, six of them fatal. The county experienced a 44% increase in 2020 with 75 overdoses, including eight fatalities.

Albany County had 99 fatal overdoses in 2020, a 60% increase in overdoses from 2019, Gillibrand said.

“The Family Support Services for Addiction Act is a critical lifeline for families. We know that when families are involved, informed and supported, the outcomes for those with addiction are better,” said Marcia Lee Taylor, chief external and government relations officer at Partnership to End Addiction. “By creating a grant program for local organizations, this legislation will fund support services that are so desperately needed in communities across the country.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 81,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States between May 2019 and May 2020 — the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period, Gillibrand said.

“The months of stress, isolation and uncertainty have been difficult for everyone and especially difficult for those who suffer from addiction and substance-abuse disorders,” Gillibrand said. “The pandemic created a perfect storm of addiction triggers and disruptions to traditional supports, leaving families to manage their addiction struggles on their own.”

The average life expectancy in the U.S. dropped a full year, due to both COVID-19 and drug-related deaths, Gillibrand said. The increase has been attributed to the economic shutdown in the spring and the prevalence of fentanyl, Gillibrand said.

“The [opioid] epidemic existed before COVID and will exist after COVID,” Gillibrand said. “We need a long-term approach to finding programs families will be turning to for years to come. We must ensure these organizations can continue to supply families the tools they need... During this time of great economic hardship, that support is essential. People are suffering. They’re relapsing and they’re dying from substance-abuse disorders too often.”

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(3) comments


Pete Kusminsky

Greene County Sheriff

411 Main Street February 26, 2020

Catskill, NY 12414

Re: Demand that the Sheriff’s Department not provide “centers of rehabilitation.”

Dear Sheriff Kusminsky:

As you know, I vehemently oppose the jail in Coxsackie. You described the staff locker room as NFL style. The overall cost deeply harms the County’s finances, skews priorities away from needed services. I deeply oppose the concept of barrack-style homeless housing. I prepared and filed an injunctive lawsuit on this topic.

To be frank, your staff is not qualified to provide rehabilitation. Peer-reviewed literature is consistent that people jailed are not aided. The historical use of jails and prisons is punishment. My experience with law enforcement in Greene County is consistent with the literature.

Enclosed is an article by Sarah Lynch titled: “A Jail By Any Other Name.”

To conclude, I will continue to litigate against the County if the County continues along this path. Sheriff incarceration only harms our County, spiritually and economically.


Scott Myers

39 West Bridge Street

Catskill, NY 12414

C.c. Greene County District Attorney Joseph Stanzione

Greene County Public Defender Angelo Scaturro

Members of the Court

Members of the public and the press

Rory VanDeusen

So what do you propose as an alternative to jailing criminals? Release violent criminals such as homicide, rapists, child molesters etc. Do you really think that will work? Do really think that these criminals will not repeat their crimes? How do you propose to rehabilitate these criminals when they are on the streets? How do you propose to protect communities like Catskill where you want to delete the police department? Think about what you are writing.


Not at a jail!

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