Multiple Inmates Overdose at Maricopa County Jail, Prompting Concerns
In a disconcerting turn of events, the number of inmate overdoses at Maricopa County Jail continues to rise, only a month after seven inmates were treated in a single incident.
The latest update reveals that five additional inmates have been rushed to a nearby hospital for suspected overdoses.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office took swift action by administering doses of Narcan to the affected inmates before transferring them to medical care.
12 News has learned that all five inmates are currently back in the custody of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, where they are in the process of recovering.
However, this disturbing occurrence is not an isolated case within the county’s correctional facilities.
The Maricopa County Towers Jail facility in Phoenix was the site of the suspected overdoses, which took place in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Authorities have been grappling with drug-related incidents in the same facility, with two inmates requiring hospitalization just weeks prior.
Law enforcement officials suspect that drugs were the cause of these incidents as well.
Another notable occurrence unfolded in early April when seven inmates reportedly overdosed.
The Sheriff’s Office discovered fentanyl and meth pills in the same area where these inmates were housed.
These incidents shed light on a growing problem that has been plaguing MCSO (Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office) jails.
Sheriff Paul Penzone acknowledges the severity of the issue, stating that it has prompted increased training for deputies to administer Narcan.
So far, this year is on track to see the highest number of Narcan administrations ever recorded.
The influx of fentanyl into the correctional system is also a major concern.
Seizures of fentanyl reached record levels in 2022 and are predicted to surpass those records this year.
The drugs are being smuggled into the jails through various means, including batteries, bullet cartridges, and face masks.
However, the majority of contraband is being introduced via an individual’s body, which poses a constitutional challenge for deputies.
While comprehensive searches are conducted upon inmate intake, deputies do not possess the lawful authority to invade personal space or conduct intrusive body searches.
As a result, the MCSO is implementing additional measures such as health screenings, increased cell searches, and the acquisition of more X-ray machines for the jails.
Sheriff Penzone is urging lawmakers to take decisive action against the drug crisis, hoping that stronger legislation will reduce the number of overdoses and deaths within MCSO facilities.
Since 2020, at least 95 individuals have lost their lives while in MCO custody, with fentanyl playing a significant role in this tragic toll.
However, data obtained reveals that suicides and homicides within the jail system have also seen an alarming increase over the past three years.
With the situation intensifying, both law enforcement and policymakers are striving to find effective solutions to combat the rampant drug crisis infiltrating Maricopa County jails.
The hope is that concerted efforts will yield positive outcomes and put an end to this distressing trend.