ACLU: Settlement allows Leavenworth inmate to get opioid addiction drug

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LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (WIBW) -- A Leavenworth inmate will be allowed to take a drug used to treat opioid addiction that supporters say could save his life.

The Kansas and Missouri affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union had sued the Federal Bureau of Prisons after the agency denied Leaman Crews access to the treatment. They claimed he could die if he were denied buprenorphine, however the government said only pregnant inmates were allowed to take it for opioid use disorder.

Crews came to Leavenworth last week to begin a 36-month sentence. The ACLU says doctors had been administering the drug for the past year to treat his symptoms. The civil rights organization claims he became addicted to opioids following a car accident.

“We’re thrilled about Mr. Crews receiving the medical attention he needs and deserves,” Kansas ACLU Executive Director Nadine Johnson said. “He was our primary concern. However, a narrow agreement focused only on him isn’t sufficient. We don’t want others to endure the same or similar situations.”

The ACLU argued in its court filing Friday that withholding medication violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment as well as federal statutes.

“Absent an injunction, the BOP’s policy will cause Crews to suffer painful withdrawal and will place him at a high risk of relapse, overdose and death,” the ACLU’s filing said.

Crews will be allowed to take the medication as soon as Wednesday night, the ACLU noted.