Worcester Medicine publishes “The Eldred Case: A Troubled Encounter of Law and Science”

The Worcester District Medical Society published an article by Peter Martin in the November/December 2018 edition of its quarterly publication, Worcester Medicine. Below is an excerpt from the article.

In July 2018, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a judge exercised appropriate discretion in ordering a woman, who was on probation for stealing jewelry to support her heroin habit, to jail as a result of her violation of the “drug-free” condition of her probation. Since the ruling was issued, it has been mischaracterized in a variety of ways. Some commentators have argued the decision stands for the proposition that substance use disorder does not eliminate an addict’s “free will.” Others have claimed the decision criminalizes drug addicts’ relapses. A close reading of the decision shows a court struggling with conflicting public policies, the need to enforce a probation violation in the course of a disease process and a developing understanding of SUD patients’ needs and capabilities.

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