PROVIDENCE – United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha announced today that his office has entered into an agreement with the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility (Wyatt) to ensure that detainees being treated for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) prior to entering the facility will continue to receive that treatment while in Wyatt’s custody, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Individuals who are receiving treatment for OUD are generally considered disabled under the ADA. Accordingly, among other things, the law requires that jails and prisons maintain medications that individuals have already been prescribed to treat OUD. Based on an investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s determined that the Wyatt Facility was not in full compliance with its obligations under the ADA. The investigation determined that Wyatt failed to provide medications used to treat OUD, such as methadone and buprenorphine; and did not provide any individualized medical determination to assess whether each person should be maintained on or withdrawn from such treatment. As a result, individuals who had previously received treatment for OUD under the supervision of a licensed health care professional had to undergo forced withdrawal while incarcerated at Wyatt.
Under the terms of the agreement, Wyatt will adopt non-discriminatory medication management policies at the facility and provide methadone or buprenorphine for individuals with OUD who have been prescribed such medication under the supervision of a licensed health care professional.
“Efforts to combat substance abuse and opioid deaths require every tool at our disposal,” said U.S. Attorney Cunha. “That means not just vigorous and targeted law enforcement, but also sensible and humane treatment that provides a bridge to recovery. Where medical professionals have determined that OUD treatment is appropriate, the ADA requires jails like the Wyatt to continue to provide it, and I am pleased that, with today’s agreement, the facility has committed to meet this critical obligation to its detainees.”
This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Romero. Those interested in finding out more about the ADA can call the department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or visit www.ada.gov. ADA complaints may be filed online at http://www.ada.gov/complaint. The department has issued guidance on the ADA and the Opioid Crisis, available at https://www.ada.gov/opioid_guidance.pdf.
Anyone in the District of Rhode Island may also report civil rights violations directly to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island at https://www.justice.gov/usao-ri/civil-rights-enforcement or 401-709-5000.