In a closely watched case involving addiction treatment for prisoners, a federal judge on Monday granted a preliminary injunction that requires Essex County officials to provide a soon-to-be-incarcerated Ipswich man with access to physician-prescribed methadone treatment. In her ruling on Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Denise Casper said that in weighing Geoffrey Pesce’s request for relief, the court considered the likelihood that his case would succeed and whether relief was in the public interest. The judge concluded that Pesce “will be irreparably harmed if denied methadone treatment while incarcerated.”
A law signed in August by Gov. Charlie Baker will bring medication-assisted treatment to new institutions around the state, introducing it to Department of Correction prisoners, offering it to lower-level offenders in five counties, and mandating that emergency rooms and involuntary commitment facilities can provide it. Medication-assisted treatment can include methadone, which helps stave off the effects of withdrawal, and Vivitrol, which helps prevent relapse.
“For the houses of correction there will be five pilots for continuing treatment, for people who come in with a valid prescription or under medical care,” Sen. Cindy Friedman, the Senate chairwoman of the Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Prevention, said when the bill was agreed upon.