WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE, Ohio (WCMH)– Seven female inmates overdosed at the Fayette County jail early Monday morning, according to the sheriff.
Sheriff Vernon Stanforth said someone smuggled the suspected heroin into the jail, possibly in a body cavity and he suspects the women snorted it.
Fayette County and Washington Courthouse officials said they are doing what they can to stem the growing tide of drug overdoses in the area. The county jail is adding a body scanner and the city passed a law to charge those who overdose with a crime.
Sheriff Stanforth said law does not allow for body cavity searches without a warrant, when people brought to the jail.
“When they come in we can do observation, if we are processing them into the jail, they can be observed during the disrobing but we can’t do an examination,” he said.
After seven women overdosed in the jail and survived last night, along with two overdose deaths here since last Spring, the sheriff said a new body scanner cannot get here soon enough.
“Everybody coming into the jail will go through the body scanner, and what that is going to show us are those things that are hidden in the body. Whether they inserted it into various cavities or whether they have swallowed it,” the sheriff said.
Sheriff Stanforth said detectives are investigating how the suspected heroin got into the jail.
“All the indications are that one of the female inmates brought it in through a body cavity.” Stanforth said.
The city of Washington Courthouse passed a recent law where they can charge those who overdose with misdemeanor Inducing Panic.
Fayette Recovery Center site manager Sabrina Kersey said the number of addicts seeking treatment at their facility has more than doubled since February, from 25 – 30 on average to 68 clients in March. “Overdosing is not always enough for a person to seek treatment on their own,” Kersey said. “It is not just the number of heroin overdoses that are up, meth and crack are too,” she said. “The drug Vivitrol keeps people from using heroin and some of them are turning to meth and crack,” Kersey said.
The Fayette Recovery Center teaches an enhanced-based treatment that builds life skills, things that might trigger a relapse, Kersey said. “We need to retrain the brain,” she said.
Officials said the new law allows them to better track who has overdosed, offer them assistance and/or mandated court-ordered treatment if the addict refuses help.