Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Utah: The surveillance state

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Jason Koebler and Emanuel Maiberg write in Vice Motherboard:

As the state of Utah funneled hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to a private surveillance company building unproven technology to fight the opioid crisis, public health officials asked if the money could instead be used to buy a life saving drug that stops potentially fatal overdoses, Motherboard has learned.

The money, which Utah gave to a company called Banjo via the state’s Department of Health, in this instance totaled $250,000. Emails between the Utah Department of Health, the state’s Attorney General’s office, and the Drug Enforcement Agency obtained via public records request show that the Department of Health asked if some of the money allocated to Banjo via a program called DEA 360 could be used to buy naloxone (sometimes sold under the brand name Narcan), a medication used to counter the effects of an opioid overdose. The Department of Health said it was facing a funding shortage that would result in a gap in its naloxone supply and believed the money allocated to create an unproven AI would be better spent on the overdose-stopping drug.

“I wanted to follow up regarding the remaining funds for DEA 360 ($250,000),” Anna Fondario, who manages the Violence & Injury Prevention Program at the Utah Department of Health wrote in a March 2019 email to Brian S. Besser and Ciara Gregovich at the DEA and the Utah Attorney General chief of staff Ric Cantrell. “We previously discussed having the AG’s Office invoice us for BANJO related activities. Is this still the case?”

Fondario added: “If not, we’ve identified a need for an additional supply of naloxone kits to cover a potential two month gap before other funding is available for kits, Would you be interested in using some of this funding for naloxone?”

Later that same day, Besser forwarded Fondario’s email to Cantrell and Gregovich, saying: “I want these funds (the whole $250K) to go to Banjo … I thought this was already in progress?”

While these funds were not specifically earmarked for the purchase of naloxone, the news shows how governments spend vast amounts of money on private, for-profit companies developing unproven and untested policing technologies while failing to fund projects that pay for medication that can save the lives of people caught in the country’s opioid crisis.

In an interview, Fondario said that  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 March 2020 at 12:08 pm

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