Earlier in the month, a Chicago woman along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) preemptively sued DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick prior to serving a 30-day DUI sentence from a 2016 offense.
Christine Finnigan, 53, is a recovering opioid abuser who has been successful in treating addiction with methadone for over a year. The DuPage County jail does not provide the medication to inmates and Finnigan was afraid of relapse if she wasn’t provided the medication.
Still Receiving Medication
Her lawsuit was dismissed by the court, but she is still set to receive the treatment she needs.
On Friday the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office provided transportation for Finnigan to be taken to a clinic to receive methadone treatment “as deemed necessary by her medical intake evaluation,” according to a DuPage County Sheriff’s Office press release.
When she entered the correctional facility to start serving her time on February 25, she received a medical evaluation “which is standard protocol for every inmate entering the facility.” Her medical evaluation showed she will be able to get methadone treatment for the time she will be at the jail.
The sheriff’s office said they told Finnigan’s legal representatives in January that their medical staff would review her medical records and once a physical exam was done they would determine if methadone treatment was necessary.
The Daily Herald previously reported the ACLU said that won’t do because it can take as long as two weeks for the medical evaluation to be completed. The sheriff’s office said instead of “promptly providing those records, Ms. Finnigan’s legal representatives filed a needless complaint.”
“It’s a shame that a frivolous lawsuit complicated this process, which was already being considered by our on-site medical providers. It’s troubling that anyone other than a certified physician or medical practitioner would make a decision regarding an individual’s medical care,” said Mendrick. “I hope next time we can have a conversation which does not fall on deaf ears, prior to a headline-grabbing lawsuit being filed. That being said, I’m happy to provide Ms. Finnigan with the necessary medical assistance she feared would be kept from her while in our facility.”
According to an ACLU news release, records show the DuPage County jail has not provided methadone to a non-pregnant inmate since 2016.
“We are thrilled for Christine and pleased that the jail intends to provide her prescribed, life-saving medication during this time. It will be a great relief to her,” said the ACLU in the news release. “We hope that the discussion around Christine’s case will encourage DuPage County officials to adopt permanent policies to allow any person with the disability of opioid use disorder to receive life-saving addiction treatment medication.”
Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.