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Press Release

U.S. Attorney's Office Settles Disability Discrimination Allegations with Massachusetts Parole Board

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts

BOSTON – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts has reached an agreement with the Massachusetts Parole Board to resolve allegations that the Parole Board violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by discriminating against individuals with Substance Use Disorder (SUD).

The agreement resolves complaints that the Parole Board discriminated against parolees and prospective parolees with SUD taking Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD). MOUDs include buprenorphine (Suboxone), methadone and naltrexone (Vivitrol). According to the complaints, the Parole Board required certain parolees with SUD to take a specific form of MOUD as a condition of parole instead of requiring them to comply with their health care provider’s recommended treatment. In addition, the Parole Board had a prior practice of requiring certain prospective parolees with SUD to take prescription Vivitrol without conducting individualized assessments to ascertain the efficacy or appropriateness of Vivitrol for that person and without considering whether other forms of MOUD might be more appropriate or effective.

“Ensuring access to medical treatment for opioid use disorder is a central part of this office’s strategy to combat the opioid crisis and every bit as important as prosecuting drug traffickers,” said Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell. “Individualized and effective medical treatment for drug addiction saves lives and reduces illegal drug use.  We commend the Parole Board for working with us and sharing our commitment to fighting the opioid crisis with every tool we have.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the Parole Board will ensure that when parole applicants with SUD are assessed for treatment, a qualified addiction specialist authorized to prescribe all three types of MOUD will conduct an individualized assessment and recommend or prescribe the appropriate MOUD or treatment for the applicant, if deemed appropriate. The Parole Board will not express a preference for, or mandate, one form of MOUD over another, even if an individualized assessment results in a recommendation that includes more than one medication option.

In addition, the Parole Board agreed that it will modify conditions of parole for all parolees with SUD to eliminate any condition that includes a requirement for a specific MOUD and instead require that the parolee comply with their health care providers’ recommendations regarding SUD treatment. For all new parolees going forward, the Parole Board will ensure that no parolees with SUD will be required to take a specific form of MOUD as a condition of parole.

This matter is part of an ongoing effort by the U.S. Attorney’s Office to enforce the ADA and to eliminate discriminatory barriers to treatment for SUD. This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Torey B. Cummings and Gregory Dorchak of Mendell’s Civil Rights Unit.

The Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office was established in 2015 with the mission of enhancing federal civil rights enforcement. For more information on the Office’s civil rights efforts, please visit

Updated January 4, 2022

Civil Rights