May 9, 2019
By Elizabeth Matos, PLS Executive Director
Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi was right about a number of things in his recent opinion piece, “Addiction treatment program needs to stay in Western Mass.,” April 21, page C4. Families face tough choices when a loved one is endangered by alcohol or substance use disorders, and treatment is desperately needed throughout the state. Where we strongly disagree is that we believe people civilly committed for treatment under the law known as Section 35 – who have not been convicted or even charged with a crime – should not be put in a jail or a prison. Sending people to a correctional institution just because they have a disease is wrong. In the words of Governor Baker’s Opioid Working Group, “It is important that treatment occur in a clinical environment, not a correctional setting, especially for patients committed civilly under section 35.” Jails should not be a substitute for inpatient community treatment facilities.