The opioid overdose epidemic, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, has devastated Pennsylvania for years, and hits people in jails and prisons particularly hard. Despite a constitutional right to medical care while incarcerated and the availability of effective medical treatment, people face numerous challenges in obtaining treatment for opioid use disorder, even though jails have a unique opportunity to address this ongoing epidemic.

Pennsylvania has one of the highest rates of death due to drug overdose, and as people were cut off from their normal support systems during the pandemic, the problem only worsened. In 2021, Philadelphia experienced its highest rate of overdose deaths on record.