Massachusetts Sued for Imprisoning Addicted Women Who Haven’t Committed* Crimes

Massachusetts Sued for Imprisoning Addicted Women Who Haven’t Committed* Crimes July 8, 2014

*should be “haven’t been convicted of any crimes,” sorry; also I fixed the link:

“As Governor Deval Patrick has acknowledged, we are actually the only state that incarcerates people who are suffering from addiction to drugs and alcohol, who haven’t been convicted of a crime. And imprisoning people because they have a disease is wrong, and it’s also unconstitutional,” ACLU staff attorney Jessie Rossman told the News Service. She said the lawsuit is specifically focusing on women because they are often traumatized after the experience of being in prison, which is counterproductive to kicking their addictions. Thirteen civilly committed women are currently being housed at MCI Framingham.

Furthermore, their detox allegedly amounts to being “given a bucket,” while anti-addiction medications such as methadone and Suboxone are not being offered. They are housed in a large room for pre-trial inmates filled with bunk beds for up to 20 hours per day. Rossman argued that in some ways, they are actually treated worse than prisoners because they are not given access to the amenities most inmates have.

“They do not have access to the library. They do not have access to the chapel. They do not have access to any of the treatments, the drug programming treatment,” she said. “They are issued a prison uniform. They are issued a number, and then they are subject to disciplinary sanctions. They are treated like prisoners because they are in prison.”

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