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Arizona U-MATTER Program Helping Opioid Population Avoid Jail

In little over one year, law enforcement in Pima County have managed to redirect more than 1,000 residents addicted to opioids.

The program called Unified Medication Assisted Treatment Targeted Engagement Response (U-MATTER) also helps keep the addicted out of jail.

The Pima County Criminal Justice Reform Unit launched U-MATTER back in November 2018, pairing medical and mental health counselors with trained first responders.

The teams approach opioid users with compassion and information rather than harassment or arrest.

U-MATTER's lead researcher Josephine Korchmaros with the University of Arizona directs the program and calls the encounters "deflections."

"It's not working to just arrest people," she said, "we want to try to get them connected to treatment without introducing additional challenges to them to be able to get into recovery and stay in recovery."

The program is approaching the halfway mark of its three year grant. In its first half year, Korchmaros reported 20% of the individuals contacted went on to receive full clinical intake assessments, which she considers the most important step toward long term treatment.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been modified to correct which agency launched the program.

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Holliday Moore is a native Arizonan and veteran journalist who joined KJZZ’s news team in January 2017.Moore graduated from Arizona State University after double majoring in mass communications and marketing/management. She spent her first two decades reporting for television news, beginning in small markets and working up to congressional correspondent in Washington, D.C., for a political news service.Family commitments in Arizona brought her back to the Southwest, where she covered legislative and court beats for Albuquerque’s KRQE-TV and the infamous Four Corner Manhunt as KREZ-TV’s managing editor.Back home in Phoenix, she developed ABC15’s “Democracy Project,” now instituted at all Scripps’ news stations nationwide. Her work garnered “Best Practices” recognition by the Poynter Institute and the prestigious Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism.Her television reports, from sports to cultural issues, earned her multiple Emmy and Associated Press nominations, including a Rocky Mountain Emmy for her Hopi Partition Land Act coverage.As she started a family, Moore started her own media production agency, producing magazine-style travel stories for the Emmy-winning Arizona Highways Television show while working part time for a Valley radio station. She is convinced radio is where visual, sound, and print are merging through deeper storytelling. In her relatively short time with radio network affiliates, she has won four Edward R. Murrow Awards and multiple nominations from other professional news societies.Moore now teaches advanced broadcast writing to the next generation of reporters at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where a high percentage have gone on to receive national awards for their work in her class. She enjoys being back home near childhood friends and sharing the beautiful Arizona desert with her husband and young son.