A Mother Reflects On Her Son's Suicide After He Was Committed For His Addiction

Download Audio
Sean Wallace, during an earlier construction job (Courtesy of Heather McDermott)
Sean Wallace, during an earlier construction job (Courtesy of Heather McDermott)

Every year, thousands of people in Massachusetts ask a court to force a loved one into addiction treatment under the state law called Section 35.

We are one of the few states that uses prisons to house the men who are involuntarily committed.

About 3,000 of those men have been committed to the Massachusetts Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center at a minimum security prison in Plymouth since it opened two years ago.

But the safety and quality of treatment at these facilities are in question.

In 2017 WBUR's Deborah Becker spoke to Sean Wallace, who was sent to the Plymouth facility after it opened.

Wallace described what he went through there as "torture." He suffered methadone and drug withdrawals, and was placed in segregation.

Now, his family says they believe his time in prison led to him taking his own life last summer.


Robin Wallace, mother of Sean Wallace.

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Crisis Text Line by texting 741741.

This article was originally published on March 26, 2019.

This segment aired on March 26, 2019.


Headshot of Jamie Bologna

Jamie Bologna Senior Producer/Director, Radio Boston
Jamie Bologna was senior producer and director of Radio Boston.


Headshot of Walter Wuthmann

Walter Wuthmann State Politics Reporter
Walter Wuthmann is a state politics reporter for WBUR.



More from Radio Boston

Listen Live