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Bill Will Allow Some Massachusetts Inmates To Receive Medications For Opioid Addiction

Hampden County Sheriff Dept

Some local jails in western Massachusetts will be part of a pilot program under an opioid bill that passed in the final hours of the legislative session.

    Rather than being forced into withdrawal, some inmates will receive medications to treat their opioid addictions. 

The three-year pilot program authorized by the bill includes the Houses of Correction in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties.

" I think it is so important to  try to look at this as a mental health issue rather than a criminal issue." said State Rep. Carlos Gonzalez, a Springfield Democrat.

 Advocates say providing medication to inmates lessens the risk of a fatal overdose after they are released from jail.

The state Department of Corrections, which runs the prison system, will have to provide medications at four of its facilities starting in April 2019.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.