A Massachusetts woman will become the first known person to win approval from the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to receive ongoing methadone treatment for her heroin addiction while she serves a sentence, Reuters reports. The BOP decision to buck its own policy and provide Stephanie DiPierro with methadone on a regular basis could pave the way for other federal inmates who also have opioid addictions to receive treatments to help block cravings and avoid painful withdrawal symptoms. DiPierro was due to start a 366-day prison term in April after pleading guilty to charges of defrauding public assistance programs.
Her sentence was delayed after she sued BOP, saying that the government’s policy of denying her access to medication for addiction treatment would violate her Eighth Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment and her rights under the federal law that protects people with disabilities. “This resolution affirms one basic principle: People suffering from substance use disorder deserve just treatment,” said Carol Rose of the Massachusetts American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit along with lawyers from Goodwin Procter. BOP largely restricts federal inmates from access to medications used to treat drug addiction such as methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone.