Senate approves Kallman bill allowing medication-assisted opioid disorder treatment at ACI


STATE HOUSE – The Senate has approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Meghan E. Kallman establishing a program within the Adult Correctional Institutions to permit medication-assisted therapy for opioid use disorder.

Under the bill (2022-S 2612A), every inmate would be screened for opioid use disorder within 24 hours of incarceration. Those determined to be suffering from opioid use disorder would be offered voluntary placement in the program.

“Our state remains gripped by a very serious opioid epidemic, and unfortunately, many of those swept up in it have involvement with the justice system. People with opioid use disorder need treatment whatever their circumstances may be. I have no doubt that providing that treatment to those who are in prison will save lives and create transformational opportunities for those who are incarcerated to leave the system in better health and prepared for successful recovery. This kind of treatment program in our prisons will enable more Rhode Islanders to recover from opioid use disorder, and ultimately help address the opioid epidemic in our state,” said Senator Kallman (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence).

The program would provide participants with authorized specialists who would create an individualized treatment plan, including counseling. Decisions regarding type, dosage, or duration of the medication regimen would be made by a qualified licensed health care professional who is authorized to administer such medication.

Eligible inmates would be allowed to enter the program at any time during their incarceration, and those who are already taking such medication would be entitled to continue while incarcerated, pending a medical evaluation.

The program is to include re-entry strategies to support successful recovery for individuals as they are being released from custody, including information on treatment facilities in their area, and information about housing and employment opportunities. The program would also share information about the individual’s participation with their parole officer to ensure that any medication being used to support that person’s recovery is not deemed illicit or illegal under the terms of their parole.

The legislation specifies that no inmate shall be denied participation in the program on the basis of a positive drug screen, nor may the department discipline them for such a positive screening. The bill also prohibits the department from denying any inmate from participating in the program on the basis of any disciplinary infraction.

The bill, which would take effect Jan. 1, passed the Senate June 9 and now goes to the House of Representatives.