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New Mexico Jail Announces It Will Stop Treating Inmates With Methadone


New Mexico’s largest jail will no longer use methadone to treat inmates who are addicted to drugs, The New York Times reports. The jail’s warden cited cost concerns. He also questioned the program’s effectiveness.

The Metropolitan Detention Center in Albuquerque has been one of the small number of jails and prisons nationwide to administer methadone to inmates with drug addictions, according to the article. Hundreds of participants have gone through the New Mexico treatment program.

The program has been costing the jail about $10,000 a month, according to Ramon Rustin, the jail’s warden. He told the newspaper he did not believe the program truly worked. He said there is little evidence it reduces inmates’ return to the corrections system once they are released.

“My concern is that the courts and other authorities think that jail has become a treatment program, that it has become the community provider,” he said. “But jail is not the answer. Methadone programs belong in the community, not here.”

Advocates for the methadone program say cutting off inmates from methadone is like taking insulin from a diabetic.

In December, Rustin was ordered to extend the program for two months until its results could be further studied.

1 Response to this article

  1. Avatar of J.Montoya
    J.Montoya / January 7, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    The inpression of the article is that inmates were being “started” on Methadone treatment while in MDC & this IS NOT TRUE (At least not while I was with the Narcotics Treatment Program !). The way the program worked while I was there was inmates that were ALREADY recieving Methadone Maintainence Treatment IN THE COMMUNITY were allowed to continue treatment while in jail, in essence the inmate was transferred to the MDC CLINIC & was dosed accordingly. The implication of the news report is that inmates were BEGUN on Methadone treatment when they became incarcerated which was not the case when the program was initially begun & I feel confident was not the case when this shortsighted decision was made. Now with the new policy inmates will be FORCED to go into withdrawl & will need to be isolated & treated for that before they can be classified & placed in the general population of the jail & I can’t help but feel that this will just perpetuate the use of illicit drugs within the jail as there will now be an even greater demand for it. While as previously when inmates were part of the Narcotics Treatment Program it was made very clear to them that any illicit drug use or violence towards staff or other inmates was viewed as justification for dismissal from the Program.

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