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Pilot Program Would Let Jail Inmates Receive Medications For Opioid Addiction


An organization representing Massachusetts sheriffs says it supports legislation that would require some inmates to receive medications to treat their drug addictions while locked up.

      Medication-assisted treatment for inmates at the Franklin County Jail began in 2016, and Sheriff Christopher Donelan said he welcomes the expansion to some other correctional centers in Massachusetts.

"Just a year after we started this program we saw a 60 percent reduction in opioid deaths in the county, so I know our program had some part in that," said Donelan.

The Massachusetts Sheriffs Association endorsed a two-year pilot program at five county jails. These facilities would provide to inmates medications such as methadone that treat opioid addiction.

    The program is one of several provisions in an opioid bill awaiting Gov. Charlie Baker’s signature.

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.