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People on parole in Pennsylvania can continue medication for opioid withdrawal under settlement

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — State courts in Pennsylvania must allow people on probation to continue to take medication for opioid withdrawal as part of a Justice Department settlement announced Thursday.

Several plaintiffs had complained they were banned from taking the mediations. One Jefferson County woman experienced severe withdrawal symptoms rather than test positive and return to prison.

“Too many people have died and suffered under these kinds of policies. But we are heartened to see that the court system has finally agreed to do the right thing,” said her lawyer, Sally Friedman, senior vice president of legal advocacy at the Legal Action Center in New York.

The settlement mandates training for judges and court personnel to ensure they do not interfere with medications such as buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone.

Friedman's client, along with other plaintiffs, will also share in a $100,000 settlement, federal officials said in a news release.

The settlement resolves a DOJ complaint filed against several state court entities and court systems in Blair, Jefferson, Lackawanna and Northumberland counties.