New Law Requires Medication-Assisted Treatment for Inmates

On July 29, 2020, New Hampshire Governor Sununu signed HB 1639 in to law requiring prisoners to be screened for and provided medication-assisted treatment. The broader bill expands coverage because it provides this screening and treatment to all opposed to those previously receiving such treatment prior to incarceration. Many people lose medical insurance while incarcerated or did not have insurance at all. Medication-assisted treatment is vital to reducing recidivism and providing humane treatment to newly incarcerated individuals suffering from opiate withdrawals that affect health and decision-making in the critical early stages in the legal process.

This bill also created an enormous Opioid Abatement Commission to address what has commonly been referred to as an epidemic. Currently, the law treats anyone who distributes drugs to someone who dies the same - whether you are selling for profit or sharing with your sick family or friends. The person who sells heroin for a living and does not care about you or your life is treated no differently than the sibling, spouse, or best friend who shares with the decedent who begged them to help them feel better for a moment in time. N.H. law enforcement believes anyone charged with such an offense should be held without bail under the current statute. Your criminal record and the circumstances of your allegation do not matter to them on the issue of bail. There are no easy answers to this problem. I do not purport to have an iota of the solution. I do suggest that creating one felony punishable by life in prison and thinking it will have any effect on general deterrence or decision-making of one suffering from acute opioid addiction has proven misguided.

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