Mass. prisons agree to keep opioid treatment for inmates for now

BOSTON (AP) — Three inmates suing the Massachusetts prison system over its opioid addiction treatment program will be able to continue taking their prescribed medications for now.

The agreement reached Monday between the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which is representing the men, and the state Department of Correction would run at least until Jan. 13, when a federal judge is expected to consider broader arguments raised in the case.

Two of the men will be able to continue receiving their daily medications while the third man will be able to resume medication that prison officials had recently ended.

The ACLU and the law firm Goodwin Procter say the three inmates had been prescribed their medication prior to incarceration but were told by correction officials that they’d only receive them for up to 90 days, after which they would be withdrawn.

The organizations argue the policy violates the U.S. Constitution and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. They say the inmates are effectively being forced to go through painful withdrawal and face an increased risk of relapse, overdose and death without their medication.

The Correction Department maintains it doesn’t have a policy limiting opioid addiction treatment medicines. It says medication decisions are made by the company it contracts for inmate healthcare service.

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