© 2022 Maine Public
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Appeals Court Rules Aroostook County Jail Must Give Inmate Opioid Treatment Drug

Andy Mooers

A federal appeals court has upheld a District Court ruling that the Aroostook County Jail must provide an inmate with medicine for treating her opioid addiction.The three-judge panel ruled in Boston yesterday that Brenda Smith was entitled to receive her twice-daily dose of Suboxone while serving a 40-day sentence.

The county and sheriff's lawyers argued that that drug was contraband and shouldn't be allowed in the jail. 

The ACLU of Maine represents Smith, and argued that she is entitled to treatment under the Americans with Disabilities Act  and the 8th Amendment.

Smith's lawyer, Emma Bond, says the ruling could set the bar for county jails across the country.

"This is the first federal appeals court in the country to address the right to treatment for opioid addiction in jail," Bond says. "It represents a huge step forward in the fight against the opioid crisis and for our client, who will get her medication during her upcoming sentence."

Bond says the ruling might also help destigmatize opioid addiction and break down social barriers to treatment. "So it will be a big step forward in fighting the opioid crisis itself."

Originally published 12:05 p.m. May 1, 2019