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home : most recent : statewide implications August 17, 2017

6/8/2017 11:00:00 AM
Fayette County Jail not only one to see fatal drug overdoses

James Sprague, Connersville News-Examiner Editor

Monday night’s incident at the Fayette County Jail, involving three inmates who overdosed – and two whom died – might, to some, seem par for the course for the county, given its battle against drugs.

In all reality, as several instances at other jails nationwide within the past few months show, it is not something solely unique to Fayette County, but rather just another shred of evidence in the entire country’s battle against substance abuse, particularly opioids.

Fayette County Sheriff Joey Laughlin spoke to the Fayette County Council Tuesday night, after requesting approval for the salaries of two new jail officers, about the situation which occurred Monday night.

That incident, involving three inmates – Chad Sizemore, Thomas J.L.Lohr and Weslee M.R. Jenkins – resulted in all three overdosing on a controlled substance, possibly heroin laced with another substance, and Sizemore and Lohr dying from the overdose. Jenkins was hospitalized and was expected to recover.

The controlled substance, per the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department, was likely smuggled into the holding cell the three inmates were in via a body cavity of one of the inmates, who had just been booked into the FCJ Monday night.

While it might be new to the FCJ, it’s not new across the nation over the past couple of months, per Laughlin, who had been contacted by national media outlet CNN regarding the incident.

“The reason they reached out to us is because there’s been several other of these today, throughout the country,” Laughlin told the council. “I think it is a growing trend. Some of the facilities are now buying body scanners, which are quite pricey.”

One such incident took place in April in Clearwater, Fla., where three inmates overdosed on a white powdery substance while in the Pinellas County Jail.

According to jail officials, the substance was likely brought into the facility by one inmate after he was arrested on a driving under the influence charge.

Just Tuesday morning, five inmates overdosed at the Strafford County Jail in Dover, N.H., with all three revived with Narcan and hospitalized.

Also in April, in the Boyd County Jail in Boyd County, Ky., eight inmates overdosed over the course of a weekend, due in part to what correctional officers said was a female inmate who had likely swallowed a balloon of heroin and had it inside her when booked on drug-related charges.

“They swallow it in balloons, defecate it out, take it back there and eat it,” Boyd County Jailer Joe Burchett told WSAZ-3 at that time. “It’s scary.”

Just last month, in Huntington, W.V., several female inmates at the Western Regional Jail overdosed, per the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, with Huntington Police Chief Joe Ciccarelli telling the Herald-Dispatch newspaper that the overdoses were due to a female who had been arrested and smuggled roughly 15 grams of heroin into the jail via a body cavity.

Other such incidents took place in May in the Cook County Jail in Illinois, in February at the Medina County Jail in Medina, Ohio – where three men overdosed in the booking area after one expelled the drug from a body cavity, while they were awaiting booking – and, even closer to Fayette County, a Hamilton, Ohio man overdosed in the Middletown, Ohio city jail on heroin and fentanyl after being booked into the facility. The man had apparently smuggled the heroin into the jail.

In all those incidents, Narcan was used to help revive those inmates who overdosed.

“It is a growing problem for most facilities,” Laughlin told council. “It is happening more and more frequently ... I’ve read about 20 stories, across the country, from the past two months.”

The Indiana State Police investigation into Monday night’s overdoses at the FCJ is still ongoing.

Related Stories:
• Opioid used to tranquilize elephants blamed for Fayette County Jail inmates' deaths
• 1 dead, 10 people sent to hospital after overdosing on heroin, synthetic marijuana
• Waves of overdoses just keep coming in Bloomington

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Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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