Judge orders Essex County jail to continue methadone treatment for inmate

Judge orders Essex County jail to continue methadone treatment for inmate

A federal judge ordered for an Essex County jail to give methadone to an inmate recovering from opioid addiction.

On Monday, United States District Judge Denise Casper ordered the Essex County House of Corrections to provide 32-year-old Ipswich native Geoffrey Pesce with continued access to his methadone treatment while he is in prison.

Pesce violated his probation on an OUI charge last summer. While he admitted getting behind the wheel was wrong, he was concerned that his long-term battle with opioids could derail if he was forced to stop his daily methadone treatment.

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The jail does not allow addiction medicine behind bars, and Pesce then called the ACLU, who sued the jail.

"His treating physician showed it's medically necessary for him to remain on this methadone treatment," ACLU attorney Jessie Rossman said.

Essex County Sheriff Kevin Coppinger said he's not against it, but is concerned on how to do it.

“I have to decide exactly how we’re gonna handle Mr Pesce should he arrive here on Monday," Coppinger said. "But whatever we do, every effect has a domino effect across the board.”

Coppinger did admit that the decision is ground-breaking.

"The Pesce case is the first one, this is new ground across the country," Coppinger said. "This is the first one in the country, so whatever we decide, that ripple effect is going to go across the country.”