MIDDLETON — Essex County Sheriff Kevin Coppinger said Friday that he is "presently planning to comply" with a judge's order to provide an inmate with methadone to treat his drug addiction.
Coppinger issued the statement in response to an order Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Denise Casper to allow a soon-to-be incarcerated Ipswich man with access to his prescribed methadone treatment.
Coppinger said on Tuesday that he was reviewing the judge's ruling. On Friday, he said his department will comply with the order when Geoffrey Pesce arrives at the jail, "while reserving all legal rights in the future."
The case stems from a lawsuit filed against Coppinger in September by the Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union over a policy prohibiting prisoners at Middleton Jail from receiving methadone or Suboxone treatments.
Coppinger has said allowing the treatment would raise "security, logistical and fiscal" concerns. But Casper, in her ruling, said Pesce would be "irreparably harmed" if he were denied methadone treatment.
Casper said jail officials have not explained why they cannot safely administer prescription methadone in liquid form to Pesce under the supervision of medical staff, "given that this is a common practice in institutions across the United States and in two facilities in Massachusetts."
Pesce faces a 60-day sentence for driving with a suspended license, stemming from an incident in July in which he was pulled over while driving to his treatment program. The infraction constituted a parole violation based on a previous charge of operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs
Pesce could be sentenced to jail at his Dec. 3 probation violation hearing in Lynn, or at a Jan. 14 appearance in Ipswich District Court where he is due to plead guilty in connection with the suspended license charge.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or email@example.com.