The Latest on a Massachusetts case challenging the practice of ordering people with addiction to stay drug free as a condition of probation (all times local):
Massachusetts’ attorney general has urged the state’s highest court not to prevent judges from ordering people with addiction to remain drug free as a condition of probation.
Assistant Attorney General Maria Granik told the Supreme Judicial Court on Monday that drug-free requirements can reduce incarceration rates and help people recover from addiction.
The closely-watched case was brought by a woman who was sent to jail after testing positive for fentanyl days into her probation for larceny. She says it’s unfair to punish people with addiction for something beyond their control.
Attorney Lisa Newman-Polk told the court that requiring someone with substance use disorder to be drug free is effectively ordering them to be in “remission of one’s addiction.”
The court is expected to issue a decision in the coming weeks.
A unique case before Massachusetts’ highest court is challenging the practice of ordering people with addiction to stay drug free as a condition of probation.
Julie Eldred was sent to jail last year after testing positive for fentanyl days into her probation for larceny. The 29-year-old with severe substance use disorder now says she was unfairly punished because her relapse was the result of a disease, not a choice.
Eldred’s supporters say punishing people with addiction doesn’t work, and even the threat can cause stress that increases the risk of relapse.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office is urging the court to uphold the probation requirement. The attorney general says drug testing and sanctions help users on their path to recovery.
The court is set to hear the case Monday.