County Prison Inmate Died From Drug Overdose - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

County Prison Inmate Died From Drug Overdose

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The death of an inmate at the Erie County Prison was caused by a drug overdose. That's the ruling today by the Erie County Coroner.  The question remains, How did an inmate get his hands on the drugs while behind bars?

Emergycare paramedics were called to the Erie County Prison on May 2.  They took an unresponsive, 35-year old inmate to UPMC Hamot.  The inmate died on May 5.   He never regained consciousness.  Coroner Lyell Cook was called to conduct an investigation.

"Because any death in captivity is required to be investigated by the coroner, we appeared.   There were no injuries to the body, so we elected to simply perform toxicology.   We did that and we have the numbers back now," says Cook.

The toxicology report confirmed what prison officials feared. The inmate died from lethal doses of two contraband drugs.

"As to how the drugs made their way into the facility, that's not part of our investigation.   Suffice to say, they were not drugs given to him by the staff at the prison," said Cook.

Although the incident happened one month ago, there's been no action taken by County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper or by the administration at the Erie County Prison.   They say they've been waiting for the toxicology report.  But, this was not the only time a drug overdose occurred at the prison recently.  Emergycare records reveal that paramedics have been called to the prison three times since the first of the year for unresponsive inmates.
Those inmates were treated for drug overdoses.

So, how do drugs end up in our nation's prisons?  We took that question to Dr. Art Amann, the Director of the Public Safety Institute at Mercyhurst University.

"Sometimes inmates will secrete the drug on their body, either anally or swallow the drugs inside a balloon or something else. Sometimes through contact visits, people would turn drugs over to inmates that way, and occasionally, it's very rare, but you might have a staff member that's been coerced to bring in drugs," Amann said.
  
Cook says it's his policy to not reveal the types of drugs included in toxicology reports.  He also will not reveal the drug levels found in a victim's bloodstream.
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