On Monday, November 29, Tazewell County Circuit Court Judge Henry A. Vanover will resume a probation violation hearing against Kimberly Dawn Bucklin, a 29 year old divorced mother of two who was incarcerated for taking methadone as prescribed by her physician. Ms. Bucklin will be represented at the hearing by Thomas R. Scott, Jr., an attorney at the Street Law Firm in Grundy who is working with the ACLU of Virginia on the case.
Scott and the ACLU will argue that imprisoning Ms. Bucklin because she received methadone treatment is cruel and unusual punishment and a violation of due process.
In June 2003, Bucklin was placed on six months house arrest and three years probation after pleading guilty to drug possession and child abuse. At the time, she was successfully combating an Oxycontin addition by receiving medically supervised methadone maintenance treatment at the Life Center of Galax. She was allegedly told by her probation officer to “detox” from methadone within six months.
Ms. Bucklin attempted to comply with this order by quickly tapering her dosage, even against the advice of health care professionals at the Life Center. Eventually, however, she began to experience severe withdrawal symptoms, causing physicians at the Center to increase her doses. When the court became aware of this, Ms. Bucklin’s probation was revoked, and she was ordered to spend three years in prison. This summer the court agreed to reconsider the incarceration order and set a hearing for August 20, 2004
At that hearing, Judge Vanover heard testimony from Robert G. Newman, director of the Chemical Dependency Institute of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York. Newman testified that methadone maintenance therapy is the best treatment available for opiate addiction, and that forcing a patient to cease methadone treatment may result in severe withdrawal, relapse, or even death. The judge continued the hearing to November 29 in order to allow the Commonwealth’s Attorney an opportunity to present his case.
In addition to attorney Scott, Ms. Bucklin is represented by ACLU of Virginia legal director Rebecca K. Glenberg.

CONTACTS:

Rebecca K. Glenberg, Esq. ACLU of Virginia, 804-644-8022

Jim Mandler, Corporate Director of Public Affairs, 212-523-7772

Holly Catania, Esq., International Center for Advancement of Addiction Treatment, Beth Israel Medical Center, 212-523-7438

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