By Brittany Hailer
Pittsburgh Current Managing Editor
A 71-year-old man incarcerated at the Allegheny County Jail is being denied methadone by jail administration, forcing him into withdrawal.
The Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project and the Abolitionist Law Center sent a letter to Allegheny County Jail Warden Orlando Harper today alerting their concerns over incarcerated person Jerome Maynor, 71, who has been denied medicine-assisted-treatment.
According to the letter, Maynor is diagnosed with depression and opioid use disorder and had been receiving methadone, or medication-assisted treatment (MAT), as prescribed by his physician since January 2017. However, Allegheny County Jail currently does not permit individuals in custody to receive methadone or buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorder, unless the incarcerated person is pregnant.
The letter requests that Harper immediately provide Mr. Maynor his daily prescribed methadone medication.
The Current has reached out to Allegheny County officials for comment. That information will be updated when available.
On March 15, Maynor was arrested and brought to the jail. According to the letter, “He has been abruptly removed from this necessary medication upon his incarceration at Allegheny County Jail on March 15, 2021, causing him serious harm with potentially dire consequences. We urge you to take immediate action to fix this situation.”
According to the letter, Maynor had been successful in attending counseling sessions and taking his methadone as prescribed, “Mr. Maynor has been in active recovery, successfully managed by MAT since January 2019. He has been able to maintain employment as a community outreach worker.”
Adrienne R. Abner, staff attorney and nurse with the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, said that Maynor’s age is a factor in his case and the effects of withdrawal could be more taxing on his body.
“The withdrawal symptoms, even for a young person, are devastating. He’s being forced into withdrawal and there are medications to prevent this. This is heart-wrenching. You have a 71-year-old person being forced into withdrawal which will have devastating effects on the body,” said Abner.
According to the letter, Maynor is actively experiencing symptoms of detox including “nausea, pain, difficulty eating, difficulty sleeping, diarrhea, tremors, an inability to focus, feelings of impending doom, fear of his life, and he fears that ‘he might not make it.’”
Alexandra Morgan-Kurtz, managing attorney of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, said regardless of the particular circumstances of Maynor’s age, “he is absolutely entitled to the medication that he needs.”
“This individual had been trying hard to recovery and is an active member of the community, and because of a probation violation, he’s been removed from his family, community, and life-saving medical care,” Morgan-Kurtz said.
She also said there’s been a growing movement across the county to ensure that people incarcerated have access to MAT.
“Prisons and jail are behind the curve.They don’t recognize this as a medical condition. With MAT there’s a particular reluctance to provide that care. It’s a violation of the American Disabilities Act because you’re discriminating against who you provide medical care,” said Morgan Kurtz.
According to the letter urges the Harper to make the following steps:
- Provide the medication to Mr. Maynor at the Allegheny County Jail;
- Transport Mr. Maynor off-site daily to a treatment center to receive his medication;
- Transfer Mr. Maynor to another facility capable of providing the medication; or
- Release Mr. Maynor on a medical leave if the jail is otherwise unable to accommodate his needs.