Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clark speaks out on agreement with Cumberland County for mental health care, suicide prevention and medication assistance for drug withdrawal at Cumberland County Jail |


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Hello. Philip R. Sellinger, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, will also participate. We are here today to announce that the Department of Justice and Cumberland County, New Jersey have agreed to a consent statute outlining remedies to resolve the investigation into Cumberland County Jail in Bridgeton. .

The Office of Civil Rights and the U.S. Attorney’s Office have initiated a Cumberland County Jail Patterns or Practices Study under the Institutional Civil Rights Act. We are investigating a string of six tragic suicides by inmates who used opioids before entering prison but were denied medical treatment (MAT) when they arrived at the facility. started. Pharmacotherapy support is the use of drugs combined with behavioral therapy and counseling to treat opioid use disorder (OUD). It is an effective, evidence-based treatment and best practice in prisons and detention centers across the country.

After a thorough investigation, the Justice Department will release its findings report in 2021, saying that Cumberland County’s failure to provide MATs to those incarcerated for opioid use disorder is a sign of proper mental health and suicide. It concluded that there were reasonable grounds to believe that precautions could not be provided. was a pattern or practice that violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. If such treatment is not provided, inmates with opioid use disorders will suffer painful withdrawal symptoms. It prevents participation in other types of treatment. and increased post-hospital mortality. MAT is not only safe to use in prisons and detention centers, it also leads to less illegal drug use and fewer disciplinary issues.

Since the release of our findings report, we have been in discussions with Cumberland County regarding the necessary remedies to address these findings. The proposed consent decree is the product of those discussions. The consent decree mandates that Cumberland County provide MAT to incarcerated persons undergoing drug-free opiate withdrawal, when clinically appropriate, and that the county is at risk of self-harm. It resolves the ministry’s claims by ensuring that people are provided with adequate mental health care and suicide prevention measures. The agreement calls for screening and assessment of opioid withdrawal and suicide risk, provision of MAT and mental health care under individualized treatment plans, and appropriate supervision and suicide prevention measures.

This agreement will serve as a model for other facilities in the county facing large numbers of OUD patients. The agreement calls for the establishment of an independent monitor, which the parties will jointly select and propose to the court. An independent monitor will assess compliance with the consent decree and issue a public report every six months.

Nearly two million people are currently incarcerated in our prisons and detention centers. Too many people are in prison today with mental illness and substance use disorders. The Office of Civil Rights has long fought to protect the right of people incarcerated to receive treatment for serious medical and mental health needs. Our work protects the most vulnerable people in society who do not surrender their rights at the entrance to prison. Our research has been successful in identifying not only systemic constitutional violations, but also the root causes of such violations, so that the causes can be remedied and the violations remedied.

The consent decree follows efforts in Virginia to enforce an agreement to ensure medical and mental health care and adequate housing for people with severe mental illness incarcerated at Hampton Roads Regional Prison. increase. In Massachusetts, an agreement with the State Department of Corrections ensures that people facing mental health crises get the services they need, rather than simply being confined to restrictive housing.

The Cumberland County Jail consent decree is also an important milestone in advancing the department’s efforts to protect the civil rights of people with opioid use disorders. Working with federal attorneys’ offices across the country, the Office of Civil Rights has prioritized efforts to combat discrimination against people with opioid use disorders under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The law is clear. People undergoing treatment for opioid use disorder are generally considered disabled under the ADA. Withdrawing treatment for such disorders could be discriminatory against those individuals who violate the ADA. Prisons and prisons cannot have policies prohibiting individuals from continuing medications already prescribed to treat opioid use disorders. For example, the Office of Civil Rights has worked with the federal prosecutor’s office in Massachusetts on a number of ADA enforcement matters, including the Worcester County Jail. The review resulted in the first MAT agreement between the Department of Justice and correctional institutions. whole country. The Department also enforced the ADA’s requirement to provide MATs to those incarcerated in Rhode Island (Wyatt Detention Center) and Kentucky (Fayette County Detention Center) matters.

The Constitution protects the inherent dignity of every human being and recognizes the intrinsic worth of every human being. Individuals do not lose their protection in prison. Everyone has the right to appropriate medical and mental care, including those in prisons and detention centers. Appropriate care must include access to life-saving drugs, treatment of opioid use disorders, and protection from risk of self-harm and suicide.

We applaud Cumberland County for working with the Department of Justice to ensure that the constitutional rights of those detained in Cumberland County Jail are protected.

I turn now to New Jersey U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger to discuss specific details regarding his agreement to speak.



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