The United States is a free country which gives people the right to build a legal case to take to the courts no matter how frivolous they may seem. The Massachusetts Supreme Court has a big decision to make in the appeal of Julie Eldred. The court has a case to hear that is based on whether Julie should be punished for violating her probation with a relapse. While there is public support for treatment instead of incarceration, the court has not necessarily caught up to the same discernment in the circumstance of relapse.
In 2016, Julie Eldred was arrested and convicted of theft. She was put on probation for her crime and within twelve days she failed a mandatory drug test when she tested positive for fentanyl, a very powerful opiate. Eldred was sent to jail for 10 days before could go to an inpatient treatment facility for addiction.
Eldred decided to appeal her case because she felt her Eighth Amendment constitutional rights were breached with cruel and unusual punishment since the medical field considers addiction a disease. She argues that relapse is a symptom of her illness and should not add up to a probation violation because addiction is a medical condition just like cancer or diabetes.
From a legal standpoint, their argument counters with the fact that someone that has broken the law agreed to probation and the terms of their probation in lieu of more jail time in the first place. Not being compliant with an agreement with the court should make the relapse a moot point especially if the crime had nothing legally to do with abusing drugs. Although Eldred may think that the punishment does not fit the crime, legal experts note that drug courts and legal consequences have been shown to keep people that have had problems with drugs and alcohol on the straight and narrow.
This case will open a dialogue that has been different than those before concerning addiction. Trying to legally define how addiction filters into a legal setting and if relapse will legally be considered as a medical symptom has been a long time coming and could affect how the probation system functions ongoing. Probation guidelines could be changed to set a new standard of how people with addiction are regarded in the legal system across the state of Massachusetts. With new probation standards, a domino effect could begin with similar cases opening across the country after a ruling that is expected this spring.
If you are someone you know is struggling with drugs and alcohol, Serenity Oaks Wellness Center has a treatment program that can help you to get and stay sober. Relapse may be considered a part of recovery, but it does not have to. Let us show you how to adorn your soul to give you a better chance of preventing a relapse.
Call us today: 855-652-2683