Advocates call for end to men being sent to correctional facilities for substance abuse treatment
By Esteban Bustillos
April 20, 2022
Advocates are calling for the end of a Massachusetts policy that allows men to be put in correctional facilities when they are involuntarily commited for treatment of substance use disorder.
The practice, which is allowed under a statute known as Section 35, ended in 2016 for women but is still in place for men. Under Section 35, “qualified petitioners” such as spouses, blood relatives, doctors and police officers can request a court order to commit someone to treatement.
According to the Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts, around 38 states allow people suffering from substance use disorder to be civilly committed, but Massachusetts is the only state that allows them to be held in prison.
As debate quickly approaches for the state’s next annual budget, experts and advocates are calling for the state to strip correctional facilities of their funding under Section 35 and invest in other treatment options.