MDC to continue giving methadone to prisoners

Posted at: 12/04/2012 1:31 AM
By: Joe Vigil, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Metro Detention Center officials have confirmed to KOB Eyewitness News 4 that the county jail will continue giving methadone to prisoners while an audit is conducted on the issue.

Officials will be looking into the legal and medical aspects of not providing methadone to prisoners. Last week, MDC Chief Ramon Rustin announced that the program would come to an end.

The latest move is apparently in response to threatened legal action by the Drug Policy Alliance. Alliance officials said the jail did not talk to enough medical officials about the health impact of abruptly cutting off the supply of methadone to prisoners.

Methadone is a synthetic narcotic used as a heroin substitute to kick a heroin addiction. The alliance is concerned about prisoners getting severely ill or dying while withdrawing from methadone.

MDC Chief Ramon Rustin spoke in front of the Bernalillo County Public Safety Board last week. "I am charged with protecting the safety of everybody in that institution. And I have been assured through my medical experts and my psychiatrists that we'll be fine, said Chief Rustin.

The State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Emily Kaltenbach, told KOB that if the jail eventually decides to stop the program all legal options would remain on the table. We are told the audit could take two months or less.