Supreme Judicial Courts Says Judges Can Mandate Drug Users On Probation Remain Sober

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Julie Eldred at her home. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Julie Eldred at her home. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled Monday that a judge can require a drug user to remain drug-free as a condition of probation.

The case involved Julie Eldred, whose probation conditions for a larceny charge stipulated that she remain drug-free and submit to random drug tests.

Eldred was incarcerated after testing positive for the opioid fentanyl just 12 days into her probation. Eldred's attorney said the relapse was a symptom of her disease of addiction and it's unconstitutional to punish someone for a medical condition.

But the court disagreed, ruling that "in appropriate circumstances, a judge may order a defendant who is addicted to drugs to remain drug-free as a condition of probation, and that a defendant may be found to be in violation of his or her probation by subsequently testing positive for an illegal drug."


Deborah Becker, senior correspondent and host at WBUR. She tweets @wburdebbecker,

Michael Botticelli, executive director of Boston Medical Center's Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine. He's also the former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Obama. He tweets @mbotticellibmc.

Nancy Gertner, former Massachusetts federal judge, senior lecturer at Harvard Law School and WBUR legal analyst. She tweets @ngertner.

This segment aired on July 16, 2018.


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