A new initiative announced Monday in local courts will help defendants at high risk of opioid overdose get immediate treatment. Which means people arrested may not find themselves in jail right away as treating their drug use takes precedence.

It’s a collaboration with court system officials, county officials and law enforcement.

Opioid Stabilization Part, or OSP, will provide immediate intervention, treatment and supervision to high-risk defendants. 

Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter said he was relieved when he heard about the program.

“We’re often very fearful that we have someone that doesn’t belong in jail at that moment although the court system rightfully placed them there. We realize with their addiction, they’re at high risk and that’s exactly what were trying to wean out of the jail,” said Sheriff Baxter.

Cases that are opted to undergo OSP will be suspended for prosecution by the District Attorney so the defendant can go through a stabilization process. Once the defendant is no longer at risk of overdose– the defendant may be referred to drug treatment court, judicial diversion or other adjudication.

Supervising Judge of the Treatment Courts John DeMarco said the goal of OSP is simple: To save the lives of those that come through the criminal justice system, even if that means temporary halting the prosecution.

“It can be several weeks if not months before many defendants actually begin the drug court process, It’s a critical period of time that’s lost before the timeframe that they’re arraigned and there’s obviously a lot of danger within that time period,” said Judge DeMarco.

Currently, this will only be for defendants arrested in the City of Rochester though they plan to extend that to town and village courts in the near future.

This program is only eligible to people who are charged with a violation, a misdemeanor or a non-violent felony.

Monroe County secured a $1.8 million federal grant to support this new initiative. The grant will address up to 300 defendants, about 50 people annually.

The OSP will begin operation next week.