Photo: Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images

The law firm Akin Gump is arguing that inmates are being wrongly denied treatment for opioid addiction, and that there’s a strong case for lawsuits to force the criminal justice system to treat them (first spotted by Joshua Sharfstein), per a memo written by Akin Gump for Bloomberg American Health Initiative.

Why it matters: If people don’t get treatment in jail or prison, they’re at extreme risk of overdosing when they get out, according to the memo. That’s because inmates aren’t using opioids while incarcerated, so their tolerance goes way down.

The law firm suggests 2 main avenues for lawsuits:

  • The Eighth Amendment: Denying adequate medical treatment could be considered a form of cruel and unusual punishment.
  • Federal civil rights laws: Denying treatment could be considered a form of discrimination against people with disabilities (especially under the Americans with Disabilities Act).

Between the lines: It’s not a shocker that a law firm is suggesting lawsuits — and it acknowledges there hasn’t been a legal precedent yet that establishes a right to treatment for inmates.

  • But don’t be surprised if this becomes a new legal movement, as the public health community looks for new ways to reduce deaths from opioid overdoses.

Go deeper

Updated 1 min ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 18,160,139 — Total deaths: 690,724 — Total recoveries — 10,755,137Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 4,698,244 — Total deaths: 155,191 — Total recoveries: 1,468,689 — Total tests: 56,812,162Map.
  3. Politics: White House will require staff to undergo randomized coronavirus testing — Pelosi says Birx "enabled" Trump on misinformation.
  4. Business: Virtual school is another setback for retail — The pandemic hasn't hampered health care.
  5. Sports: 13 members of St. Louis Cardinals test positive, prompting MLB to cancel Tigers series — Former FDA chief says MLB outbreaks should be warning sign for schools.
1 hour ago - Sports

13 members of St. Louis Cardinals test positive for coronavirus

Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Seven players and six staff members from the St. Louis Cardinals have tested positive for the coronavirus over the past week, prompting the MLB to postpone the team's upcoming four-game series against the Detroit Tigers.

Why it matters: Seven consecutive Cardinals games have now been canceled after St. Louis became the second team to report a significant coronavirus outbreak, just two weeks into the season.

2 hours ago - Podcasts

White House adviser Peter Navarro talks TikTok

President Trump has relaxed his threat to immediately ban the popular social media app TikTok, giving Microsoft room to negotiate an acquisition from Chinese tech giant ByteDance.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the situation with Peter Navarro, the White House's top trade adviser and a noted China hawk, who suggests Microsoft should be forced to make unrelated concessions related to its China operations.