U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont Christina Nolan says the opioid crisis—including related violence and human trafficking—is a top priority for her office, one she says will emphasize prosecutions to reduce the amount of opioids in the state.
"Prosecution is important," Nolan said. "I do believe that when you prosecute people it cuts back on the supply."
Nolan, sworn in to the job in November, tells Vermont Edition she also wants to emphasize stronger drug prevention measures.
"We need to do anything and everything we can to stop children from taking that first risk,” Nolan said.
To that end, she said her office has aligned itself with prevention efforts across the state. Nolan sits on the Governor’s Opioid Coordination Council prevention sub-committee. She has also met with various organizations to discuss drug prevention, including The Boys & Girls Club and Burlington Prevention Coalition.
Nolan said she wants those struggling with drugs—especially children—to see law enforcement as a resource and symbol of hope. "I think the community needs to see law enforcement on the same page with the rest of the prevention community. Urging kids not to take that first risk, but if they do, don't hide. We're here to help and we want you not to live in the shadows with this."
Nolan said collaboration is also a key to combating opioid use. She's looking for partnerships and collaborative efforts that extend beyond Vermont to local, state and federal officials in bordering states as well as Canada.
"Partnerships [with Canada] are every bit as important as our partnerships in northern New York, in New Hampshire, in Massachusetts, because crime knows no borders," Nolan said.
For those convicted of drug-related offenses, Nolan said her office is working to establish a drug court in Burlington that would take into consideration a defendant's efforts to get clean. A similar federal drug court already operates in Rutland.
Broadcast Tuesday, April 24, 2018 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.