In the Press
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Thursday, January 23, 2020How the Dems Lost Day Two — A Commentary by Donald Elliott ’74
Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Two YLS Students Help Secure Funding for CT Drug Prison Treatment Program
When Sam Marullo ’20 and Patrick Hulin ’20 first arrived at Yale Law School, they spent their 1L year advocating for funding for Connecticut opioid treatment programs in prison through the Law School’s Legislative Advocacy Clinic. Marullo, the former policy director for Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo ’98, had successfully worked on similar legislation in Rhode Island and was hoping to do the same thing in Connecticut. With the support of Professor Abbe R. Gluck ’00, the faculty director of the Solomon Center for Health Law & Policy at Yale Law School and Legislative Advocacy Clinic supervisors Jay Pottenger ’75 and Shelley Geballe ’76, the two students began drafting and pushing for legislation that would make this a reality. Now in their final year of law school, Marullo and Hulin have successfully secured funding for a treatment program in Connecticut that will save lives.
“The funding will mean that people entering prison in Connecticut will no longer be forcibly removed from their prescribed medication,” said Hulin.
More than half of opioid overdose deaths in Connecticut are former prisoners, according to recent data.
“People who reenter the community after incarceration are at a high risk of dying by overdose, and providing access to treatment while in jail or prison has been proven to reduce that risk,” added Hulin.
Marullo said this treatment program will save the state money and reduce crime in the long term.
“People who get treatment are more likely to hold a job and less likely to commit a crime,” said Marullo. “In a pilot treatment program in New Haven, individuals who received long-term treatment were an astonishing thirteen times less likely to be re-incarcerated. Every dollar spent on opioid treatment can save $1.80 by reducing incarceration, visits to the emergency room, and even the need for foster care.”
In 2018, Marullo, Hulin, and others from the Legislative Advocacy Clinic worked with Connecticut state legislators to introduce a bill that requires Connecticut to provide prisoners with access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) — the gold standard treatment for opioid-use disorder and the same treatment that people have access to in the community. Due to budget constraints, however, the measure could not be fully funded in 2018. Instead, a compromise bill was passed that laid the groundwork for future expansion. Then in 2019, the students worked directly with the staff for the newly elected Governor Ned Lamont to secure full funding for a MAT prison treatment program.
“After our partial success in the 2018 session, we looked for further opportunities to expand treatment,” said Marullo. “After Governor Lamont won the election in November, we worked with his staff to convince them that this program was a high priority in his first budget. Ultimately, the Governor dedicated significant funding for treatment. The funding was enacted by the General Assembly and signed into law.”
The newly funded program is part of an emerging national trend that is proving how evidence-based addiction treatment in prisons and jails can have profound results. In addition to Rhode Island and Connecticut, Vermont is also operating a broad-based program. Other states have made progress as well. In just the last year, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, and New Jersey have made significant strides toward offering comprehensive treatment, according to the students. Sheriffs across the country have started their own pilot programs in county jails.
“There's a lot of evidence that treatment works,” said Hulin. “In the community, MAT has been shown to save lives, save money, and reduce crime. In prison, the results are even more dramatic.”