Inmate who overdosed on fentanyl at Conn. correctional center dies
One of the four inmates who overdosed on fentanyl at the correctional center on Thursday night has died
The Hartford Courant
HARTFORD, Conn. — One of the four inmates at the Hartford Correctional Center who overdosed on fentanyl Thursday night has died, a correction department official said Tuesday.
None of the inmates have been identified.
Three were treated and released and returned to the jail on Friday. The fourth, who was in cardiac arrest when Hartford firefighters and American Medical Response paramedics and emergency medical technicians arrived at the Weston Street jail, died Saturday, correction department spokesman Andrius Banevicius said.
Correction staff was administering CPR to the inmate when the firefighters and medics arrived, and those lifesaving efforts continued on the ride to St. Francis Hospital and Medical center, said Chris Chaplin, a regional manager for AMR. The inmate had also been administered the opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan, officials said.
Correction officials and state police are investigating the incident, he said.
Deaths from fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, have soared in Connecticut and across the country. The drug was detected in more than 75 percent of the state’s 1,017 accidental drug intoxication deaths in 2018, according to Dr. James Gill, the state’s chief medical examiner. Fentanyl was to blame for 760 overdoses last year, up more than 80 from the previous year. In 2012, the medical examiner’s office reported that fentanyl was found in 12 deaths.
The state legislature’s judiciary committee is considering a bill that would require counseling for inmates vulnerable to opioid use disorder prior to their release from prison and require medication-assisted treatment programs in correctional facilities for inmates with opioid use disorder.
According to the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice, individuals recently released from jails or prisons are up to 10 to 18 times more likely to die of a fatal overdose than the general population is.
A study published last year in the American Journal of Public Health reported an even more staggering statistic: inmates were 40 times more likely to die of an opioid overdose than an average citizen within the first two weeks of their release.
Prison staff in Vermont began carrying Narcan after an increase in overdoses there, according to the Burlington Free Press.
Intercepting and finding contraband in the state’s prisons and jails is a daily challenge for correction officers.
Banevicius said he could not comment directly on the incident at Hartford Correctional, but said in general inmates try every day to get items into institutions.
“Offenders can be creative, resourceful and relentless when it comes to trying to convey contraband into our facilities and our staff has to be ever-vigilant,” he said.
The Hartford Correction Center is a high-security jail that primarily houses inmates who are awaiting trial. New prisoners arrive each day and many leave the jail each week day for court appointments.
Contraband, which includes drugs, cellphones, weapons and anything that prisoners are not issued or is not available at the prison commissary, can be smuggled in or even tossed over the fence. Prison officials in California have had to deal with people flying drones over prison yards at night to drop contraband that is later retrieved by inmates.
At one California prison, correction officers watched an early morning delivery of a package containing cellphones, cigarettes, marijuana and razor blades, before retrieving the package. Last year, California outlawed drone flights over correctional institutions.
©2019 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)