Is It Addiction Treatment Or Prison? A Look Inside A State Center For Involuntary Commitments

September 13, 2017
By Deborah Becker

Enter the former Massachusetts minimum security prison in Plymouth and you might think it’s still a prison. Men arrive in handcuffs, they wear orange jumpsuits, and they’re monitored by correction officers.

But the men have not committed any crimes. They’re at the new Massachusetts Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center — or MASAC — for court-mandated addiction treatment.

Each year thousands of Massachusetts residents go to court to ask a judge to take the controversial step of involuntarily committing someone else to substance use treatment.

Some say these commitments save lives, while others say forced treatment is ineffective and violates people’s civil rights.

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