Substance Abuse

New Mexico Jail’s Warden Wants to End Methadone Treatment for Inmates

The jail warden of New Mexico’s largest detention center announced his intention to stop treating inmates with methadone, according to the New York Times.

Ramon Rustin, jail warden of Metropolitan Detention Center and a 32-year veteran of corrections work, said the program is too expensive and he doesn’t believe it is effective in reducing inmates’ return to a correction facility once they are released.

Rustin explained the drug treatment program has been costing Bernalillo County about $10,000 a month. He noted that of the hundred or so inmates receiving daily methadone doses, there was  little evidence of a reduction in recidivism.

“My concern is that the courts and other authorities think that jail has become a treatment program, that it has become the community provider,” Rustin said. “But jail is not the answer. Methadone programs belong in the community, not here.”

But recovery advocates and community members are not taking Rustin’s public stance so well, saying discontinuing methadone treatment could be highly dangerous, akin to taking insulin from a diabetic.

The New Mexico office of the Drug Policy Alliance, which promotes an overhaul to drug policy, said in a letter that the jail warden did not have the medical expertise to make such a decision.

Last month, Rustin was ordered to extend the treatment program for two months until its results could be studied further.

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