After Release Programs Prison System Issues

Noting That Addiction Is A Disease, Should We Jail Those Who Relapse?

Court warned Julie Eldred from using drugs while she was still on probation wondering if she would relapse. But In less than 2-weeks later, examinations found that she’s been using powerful opioid fentanyl. has critical severe substance use disorder. After testing positive, Eldred spent the next 10-days in jail, Massachusetts until her attorney found her bed at one treatment facility.

However, Eldred, 29, is now challenging the idea of requiring those with addiction to stay drug-free during probations. She argues that jailing those who fail to keep this condition is unfair, as they can’t control their addiction.

Addiction specialists acknowledge that substance abuse disorder tempers with one’s ability to regulate their urge to use drugs. They include:

  • National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • American Society of Addiction Medicine

Why Is Authority Imprisoning Those Who Relapse?

drugs in prisonHowever, those fighting Eldred’s case—Massachusetts attorney general—argue that the prohibition assists addicts in their journey to recovery. The law applies throughout the nation.

Attorney General Maura Healey particularly recommends upholding of the practice to motivate the addicts to make rational choices as they fear, facing the consequences if they fail.

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Supreme Judicial Court, judges, asked critical questions to both parties because they admitted that this is a challenging issue. The court is expected to decide in the coming few weeks.

Eldred was accused of stealing jewelry prompting her to be sentenced to 1-year of probation. Such sentence enables people to avoid prison or jail if they abide by certain conditions.

Eldred had enrolled for outpatient treatment, but she later relapsed. However, she never violated any other regulations of her probation upon being sent to jail. While in the jail Eldred never received any treatment, though.

The office of the attorney general has said that, by jailing Eldred and making sure she didn’t overdose, the court may have even saved her life.

But Eldred’s lawyer argued that if indeed the court had been truly worried about her safety, it could have compelled her into treatment by committing her civilly.

The attorney general stand is being supported in the case by some psychiatrists and psychologists. The specialists under discussion oppose the categorizing of drug addictions as a “brain diseases.”

The mental specialists also argue that dropping probation requirements could have negative consequences since the threat of being jailed encourages addicts to stay sober,

Despite experiencing brain changes as a result of drug use, the experts argue, those with addiction aren’t totally unable to control their desires. They respond to sanctions and incentives.

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Why It Is Bad To Imprison Those Who Relapse.

Justice Barbara Lenk, however, questioned why it would not be enough just to order addicts to remain in their treatments, rather than courts demanding drug-free probation requirements.

Failure to change this requirement, Lenk says, it is going to hurt those with addiction in future.

Michael Botticelli served as America’s drug czar during Obama administration. Botticelli argues that people must be held to account for their behaviors.

However, Botticelli says, the measure should be whether somebody is committed to treatment, and not whether they fail in the process. This is because relapsing/failing in the process affects many people during the recovery process.

For Botticelli, imprisoning those who relapse without having committed other criminal offenses, is unfair, keeping in mind that addiction is a disease.

Helping Those In Prison Who Battle With Addictions and Mental Health Issues

Daniel Peterson
Daniel Peterson is a young professional with diverse experience in content writing and content management. He has a strong blog writing background, and runs his own e-commerce partnership business. Daniel currently writes news articles for prison loved ones on the Prison Rideshare Network.