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Kentucky jails dealing with smuggled drugs, suspected overdoses

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Posted at 4:45 PM, Jun 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-03 18:26:43-04

(LEX 18) — As jails across the state and country deal with overcrowding and understaffing, some in the area are also dealing with drugs being smuggled into facilities and suspected overdoses affecting inmates.

Jim Daley, President of the Kentucky Jailers Association, said that jails statewide are struggling with drugs getting into facilities.

This week in Franklin County, four inmates overdosed on fentanyl, but survived after deputy jailers and medical staff gave them Narcan, jailer Jake Banta said.

Six inmates went to the hospital to be checked out in that incident. An investigation showed that an inmate brought the drugs into the jail and charges are being sought, Banta said.

In Fayette County on Thursday, five inmates were taken to a local hospital to be checked out for suspected drug use.

The investigation into what the inmates might have taken, and how they got their hands on it is ongoing, said Major Matt LeMonds, a spokesman for the Fayette County Detention Center.

The inmates never lost consciousness and were transported out of an “abundance of caution,” LeMonds said.

LeMonds said that the jail evaluates every inmate that comes in to see if they need medical care, but in some cases, drug intoxication or overdose issues aren’t apparent right away. In some cases, the effects of Narcan can diminish before the effects of a drug that caused a person to overdose before they came to the jail, LeMonds said.

In some cases, drugs can enter the jail through mail or hidden on the person of someone recently booked, LeMonds said.

“That's the danger of fentanyl,” LeMonds said. “A very small amount of it can cause a whole lot of problems, whether it's one person that takes a lot of it, and then we're dealing with a life and death situation.”

LeMonds said that the five inmates who were taken to the hospital on Thursday had not been booked that day.

Jails across the state also continue to try to fill a number of vacant staffing positions.

At the Fayette County Detention Center, which houses over a thousand inmates, there are currently 111 unfilled jobs, LeMonds said.

Daley says that the Campbell County Detention Center, where he serves as a jailer, currently has only about half the staff it needs.