State treating female addicts behind bars, alongside inmates Thursday, September 15, 2005
Michelle McPhee The Boston Herald
Detox beds are so scarce in the state that women are being treated for heroin addiction at a prison hospital in MCI-Framingham.

They are addicts and alcoholics who have been involuntarily committed for detox treatment after a civil court determination that they pose a danger to themselves or others because of their disease.

Fifteen civilly committed women are being detoxed at the prison, including an 18-year-old, said Department of Correction spokeswoman Kelly Nantel.  A parent, spouse or police officer can seek a Section 35 order to force an addict or alcoholic to seek help under the state civil commitment law.

The prison has 33 beds at its infirmary for detoxification.  Women who are civilly committed are being treated alongside convicts and those awaiting trial, officials said.  The facility houses 657 women.

Nantel called the situation "a challenge to say the least."

"UMass Correctional Health Services is the medical contractor for the Department of Correction," Nantel said.  "Using the same community standards of any detox facility, inmates receive medication based on the drugs of abuse they are detoxing from.  Average detox is five days in the infirmary."

Yesterday the Herald reported the state has drastically slashed the number of rehabilitation beds for addicts in Boston from 310 to 190.  Statewide, the number of beds has dropped from 950 to 500.  Men who cannot get a detox bed are committed to MCI-Bridgewater, officials said, but there are more beds available for men than women.

Send comments to: