On Thursday, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery heard more than four hours of testimony on bills that would end the practice of sending men who are civilly committed for addiction, because they pose a danger to themselves or others, to a prison-based treatment facility if a bed is unavailable at a facility run by the state’s health care agencies. Massachusetts is currently the only state that uses prisons for civil commitments.
“Individuals struggling with substance use disorder or alcohol addiction are not criminals,” said Sen. Cindy Friedman, D-Arlington, who sponsored the bill, S.1145/H.1700, with Rep. Ruth Balser, D-Newton. “They are suffering from a disease. They must be treated. They should not be punished.”