A new law will go into effect 90 days after it was signed by Governor Baker on January 25, 2016. This law ends the civil commitment of women with alcohol and substance use disorders to prison.
Chief Counsel Benedetti said, “The practice of sending women to Framingham who are struggling with alcohol and substance use has ended. This is a tremendous step that will aid many of our clients. It is also encouraging to see that Massachusetts has come to understand that placing persons with alcohol and substance use disorders in facilities used to house persons convicted of criminal offenses should not and cannot replace those providing treatment services.”
According to Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, “By Feb. 9, fifteen beds at Taunton State Hospital will be available for women under the civil commitment process known as ‘Section 35’. Twenty-eight new beds have opened at the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain, where nurses are still being hired.” She continued, “There are six women now civilly committed for substance abuse at Framingham who will either move to the hospitals or end their commitment before then.”
A Legislative conference committee is continuing deliberations on the remaining provisions of the Opioid bill from which the new law was generated.
Related news articles and the Governor’s press release on the matter can be found at: http://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/01/massachusetts_stops_sending_wo.html, http://www.tauntongazette.com/article/20160125/NEWS/160127299, and http://www.mass.gov/governor/press-office/press-releases/fy2016/bill-signed-ending-civil-commitment-at-mci-framingham.html