After years of addiction to opiates, Kelly was convicted of drug possession and sentenced to probation. She successfully enrolled in residential treatment and a methadone program in upstate New York, where she was making outstanding progress. But Kelly’s probation officer insisted she taper off her prescribed methadone, even though her doctor strongly recommended that she continue the successful treatment. Criminal justice agencies often require people under their supervision to stop taking FDA-approved, effective addiction medication, which the Legal Action Center believes is not only bad policy, but is also discriminatory.
Because Kelly feared she would be jailed, she tried to comply with the order. When her dose got too low, however, she experienced withdrawal symptoms, prompting her doctor to increase the dosage to a medically appropriate level. The probation officer then threatened Kelly with jail. The Legal Action Center joined with the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Service and other advocacy groups to educate the probation officer and court about the dangers of ending treatment and why forced cessation of medication violated anti-discrimination laws. The probation department backed off, and Kelly was permitted to remain on methadone.