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Porter Narcotic Farm Act

The Porter Narcotic Farm Act became federal law on January 19, 1929. It created two facilities for the incarceration and treatment of drug addicts, almost all of them men addicted to morphine or heroin, and the great majority admitted on an involuntary basis from federal prisons or in lieu of sentencing to the prisons.

The first and largest, at Lexington, Kentucky, opened in 1935 to receive patient/inmates from east of the Mississippi River. Another at Fort Worth, Texas, opened in 1938 to serve the west. Operated by the U.S. Public Health Service, and formally called “hospitals,” they were hybrid institutions troubled throughout their history by the dual functions of jailing and rehabilitating addicts. While the Porter Act intended to promote effective and contemporary medical and ...

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