Harm Reduction specialists, law enforcement, business people, faith leaders and directly impacted Kentuckians relayed personal experiences and offered policy advice during Dream.org‘s first event in their Public Health Is Public Safety campaign. The event took place April 19, 2023 at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in eastern Kentucky. The campaign goals are to bring together communities across Kentucky to work for more effective drug policies, substance abuse recovery programs and harm reduction efforts. About 75 people attended this kickoff meeting. It was organized by John Bowman, who lives in eastern Kentucky and is Dream.org’s Kentucky Campaign Coordinator. Dream.org is a national organization working for criminal justice reform, climate solutions, and job opportunities for people in places that are often overlooked.
Substance abuse continues as a serious public health crisis in Kentucky. In fact, 2021 saw a 14.5% rise in drug overdose deaths. Harsh penalties for drug-related felony offenses enacted during the War on Drugs are a major reason Kentucky has very high rates of incarceration Research clearly shows that criminal drug laws neither prevent substance use nor address substance use disorder and overdoses. Advocates hope that members of the Kentucky Legislature will take steps to reduce incarceration and increase recovery opportunities in the 2024 General Assemly