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September 7, 2021

Judge Finds Jail Must Provide Access to Methadone Treatment

NEW YORK - Today, in P.G. v. Jefferson County, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York issued an order preliminarily enjoining the Jefferson County Jail from stripping plaintiff P.G. of life-sustaining medical care for opioid use disorder (OUD). The decision, the first of its kind in the Second Circuit, found P.G. likely to succeed on claims that the jail’s blanket ban on methadone treatment is discriminatory and unconstitutional.  The ban’s risk of irreparably harming P.G., the judge said, is “clear.”

P.G., a 35-year-old New York resident with severe OUD, first sought a preliminary injunction in April after Jefferson County officials refused to confirm they would allow his life-sustaining methadone treatment to continue in the event of his detention.  Today’s preliminary injunction decision follows P.G.'s seeking emergency relief late on Friday after Jefferson County arrested him without committing to prevent a life-threatening lapse in his methadone treatment.

“P.G., like all people in carceral settings, has a right to adequate medical care,” said NYCLU senior staff attorney Antony Gemmell.  “We are gratified by today’s decision, which recognizes that banning life-sustaining treatment for OUD is cruel, discriminatory, and unlawful.”

“The opioid epidemic is ravaging communities throughout the country, and the pandemic has made this crisis far worse,” said Joey Longley, Equal Justice Works fellow at the ACLU’s National Prison Project. “We are thrilled to see this important win. We hope courts around the country take notice and take action to end these bans once and for all.”

This is the first case in the Second Circuit recognizing MOUD under the ADA, and the first case in the Second Circuit granting relief for the plaintiff in a case regarding opioid treatment.

You can find the order and more materials on the case here: