The Marshall Project

When Going to Jail Means Giving Up The Meds That Saved Your Life

How the Americans With Disabilities Act could change the way the nation’s jails and prisons treat addiction.

Before Geoffrey Pesce got on methadone, his addiction to heroin and oxycodone nearly destroyed him: He lost his home, his job, custody of his son—and his driver’s license. So even after he began to rebuild his life, Pesce relied on his parents to drive him to a methadone clinic for his daily dose. One day last July, his mother was unexpectedly unavailable, and desperate not to relapse, he drove himself.

En route, Pesce was pulled over for going six miles above the speed limit and charged with driving with a suspended or revoked license, which carries at least 60 days in jail. Pesce began staring down the day he would plead guilty and, as mandated by the rules of the jail in Essex County, Massachusetts, stop taking the addiction drug that he said saved his life.

Most jails and prisons around the country forbid methadone and , even when legitimately prescribed, on the grounds that they pose safety and security concerns. The drugs are frequently smuggled

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