Press Release
September 24, 2018

ACLU of Massachusetts Challenges Policy of Denying Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

Goodwin is working with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts on a lawsuit challenging the denial of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to inmates diagnosed with opioid use disorder at the Essex County House of Correction at Middleton. 

The ACLU and Goodwin have filed the lawsuit against the Sheriff of Essex County and the Superintendent of the Middleton House of Correction on behalf of Geoffrey Pesce, who suffers from opioid use disorder but has been in recovery for two years with the help of doctor-prescribed medication. He currently faces imprisonment at the Middleton House of Correction in Essex County, where they refuse to provide MAT to people with opioid use disorder, including those who arrive with a prescription for such medication and are already in sustained recovery as a result of it. 

The ACLU and Goodwin are asking the federal court to require Essex County correctional authorities to provide Pesce’s prescribed medication for continued treatment of his opioid use disorder while incarcerated or to otherwise make the medication available to him by transporting him to the nearby methadone treatment facility to receive his daily dosage. 

“We stand with the ACLU of Massachusetts in supporting Mr. Pesce’s right to obtain the medical care he needs to sustain his recovery,” said Ira Levy, partner in Goodwin’s Litigation Department. “Failing or denying to provide this treatment would be a cruel and unusual punishment for Mr. Pesce, who has been in recovery for two years and whose well-being would be jeopardized without the medication-assisted treatment. We urge the Essex County House of Correction at Middleton to consider the consequences of its actions.” 

The Goodwin team is led by partner Robert Frederickson and includes associate Alexandra Valenti.

To learn more about the case, please read the press release.