Joseph Longley

  • Hosted by American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project
  • Sponsored by Anonymous
  • Service location Washington, District of Columbia
  • Law school Harvard Law School
  • Issue area Opioid Epidemic, Prisoners' Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2019
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Joseph will secure access to necessary care for incarcerated people addicted to opioids through innovative litigation, advocacy, and training.

At least a quarter of America’s prison population suffers from opioid use disorder and twenty-four percent of people who are addicted to heroin pass through America’s jails and prisons each year. Yet only a few dozen prisons and jails provide medication assisted treatment, the medically approved way to treat people with opioid use disorder through a combination of counseling and the FDA approved drugs methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. The consequences of such inadequate medical care are deadly—one study found that in the first two weeks after release from prison, an incarcerated person’s risk of dying from a heroin overdose is forty times as high as the general population. This project will use litigation, policy advocacy, and public education to vindicate incarcerated people’s constitutional and civil rights to basic health care.

Joseph is from rural Ohio, which has been severely impacted by the opioid epidemic, as documented in the book Dreamland by Sam Quinones. Joseph spent the summer after his first year of law school in Cincinnati, Ohio working with incarcerated people, where he saw firsthand the toll that the opioid epidemic has taken on vulnerable communities. Joseph envisions a world where people suffering from any addiction are able to get the treatment they need and live whole lives, free from stigma.

Fellowship Plans

During his Fellowship, Joseph will publish a report on the current status of medication assisted treatment in jails and prisons throughout the country. Additionally, Joseph will draft model legislation for state legislatures to require their jails and prisons to provide medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. And, he will file lawsuits alleging that prisons who deny medication assisted treatment to incarcerated people with opioid use disorder are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Eighth Amendment. Finally, he will provide technical assistance and training to ACLU affiliates and other advocates working to ensure proper care to incarcerated people addicted to opioids.

Media

How America’s prisons and jails perpetuate the opioid epidemic

Chest to Chest: Inmates Are “Sitting Ducks” Waiting for COVID-19

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