The Supreme Court has held that the Eighth Amendment also covers harm to one’s future health caused by a current condition in prison. When a prison official exposes a prisoner to a “sufficiently substantial ‘risk of serious damage to his future health,’” the Eighth Amendment is implicated.
The Eighth Amendment covers prison conditions that are sure or very likely to result in future harm. To cease treatment for opioid dependence, especially against the patient’s will, creates a substantial risk of future harm. A drug-free state is simply not medically achievable and sustainable for the majority of persons dependent on opioids, including those who attempt detoxification.
For those whose treatment is halted against their will, it is a safe assumption that their chances of achieving and maintaining abstinence are even slimmer. For the majority of afflicted individuals, untreated opioid dependence results in relapse, causes increased mortality, and can attract another range of illnesses. Thus opioid dependence is a serious medical need in both the immediate and future sense, and the decision to discontinue and deprive me of my Methadone Maintenance Treatment subjected my future health to these dangers.
Barry McCaffrey, former Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has taken a strong stand on Methadone Maintenance Treatment and its role in prisons:
“Clearly, one of the most intractable of all drugs to deal with is heroin addiction. We have been willing to marshal the political will and resources to put people behind bars but we have not been able to marshal the political will and resources to provide treatment in prison and for halfway houses on release. We have a failed social policy, and we are going to have to correct it.”
The Kent County Correctional Facility’s prohibitive policy has denies the evolving “contemporary standards of decency” which are guided by “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society” and are the foundation of the U.S. Constitution.
The policy in question is antiquated and does not conform to federal law and violates inmates civil rights.
Kent County's Sheriff Lawrence Stelma maintains that he does not have to conform to federal law if he thinks it is wrong. In the following article U.S. District Court Judge, Janet T. Neff gives her warning to Kent County. See: http://www.mlive.com/opinion/grand-rapids/ind...
Now Kent County has added a whole new set of federal laws and their position is now being challenged in the federal courts. In the end Kent County risks losing federal funding for ongoing project until they "wake up and smell the coffee" and get into the 21st Century and comply with the federal law.
Unfortunately, Kent County is fighting lawsuits that they will end up losing in the end and all at the tax payers expense. I guess it's "just another day at the office" in Kent County and "standard operating procedure" to waste the good citizens tax dollars in legal battles they will eventually lose, either in 2014 or in 2034. Assuming the average man only lives to 70.