BOSTON – The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced today that it has completed a review to ensure that state and county correctional facilities will maintain all medications used to treat Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) for people already in treatment for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) prior to entering a carceral facility’s custody, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
As part of its review, the U.S. Attorney’s Office entered into a cooperative agreement with the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, sent letters of resolution to the Massachusetts Department of Correction as well as the Plymouth, Barnstable, Bristol, Berkshire and Dukes County Sheriff’s Offices. The Essex and Suffolk County Sheriff’s Offices were sent closing letters after their correctional facilities began providing, or secured contracts with medical vendors to provide, all three forms of MOUD.
Additionally, it should be noted that the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office was the first correctional facility in the entire country to provide inmates access to all three FDA-approved forms of MOUD. The Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex and Norfolk County Sheriff’s Offices were early adopters in providing inmates access to MOUD, doing so even before the U.S. Attorney’s Office began its review. Massachusetts also has one federal correctional facility, FMC Devens, which also provides access to all three forms of MOUD.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office would like to acknowledge the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office collaboration and partnership, marking the first agreement between the Department of Justice and a correctional facility regarding MOUD in the entire country. The Worcester, Plymouth and Dukes County Sherriff’s Offices have implemented plans to provide all three medications before the end of 2022 and, in the meantime, will either transfer inmates to facilities that can provide the needed medications, or will otherwise facilitate maintaining the needed medications. All remaining correctional facilities in Massachusetts now provide access to all three forms of MOUD.
“Medications are a vitally important weapon in battling the opioid crisis, and our carceral facilities are on the front lines in that raging battle,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “We commend the Sheriffs and the Massachusetts Department of Correction for working collaboratively with us. They collectively understood and welcomed the importance of this massive shift in thinking for corrections. I also want to specifically acknowledge the counties of Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex and Norfolk, for their early adoption of this crucial effort in our attempt to reduce opioid-related deaths. Their work, combined with our review and settlement distinguishes Massachusetts as one of the few states in the country in which every correctional facility at the state, local and federal level, is or will soon be, maintaining all forms of MOUD for inmates. This work saves lives. We are very grateful to our law enforcement partners running correctional facilities for their commitment and collaboration regarding providing the best treatment for the people in their custody and care.”
OUD is considered a disability under the ADA, which requires that jails and prisons maintain the medications of individuals in treatment for their OUD.
This review is part of an ongoing effort by the U.S. Attorney’s Office to eliminate discriminatory barriers to treatment for OUD. The Office has now entered into 15 settlement agreements and six letters of resolution to ensure ADA compliance arising from OUD treatment.
This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Dorchak of Rollins’ Civil Rights Unit. The U.S. Attorney’s Office would like to acknowledge the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services for their assistance.
The Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office was established in 2015 with the mission of enhancing federal civil rights enforcement. For more information on the Office’s civil rights efforts, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-ma/civil-rights.