Update: An Inmate Overdosed at the Cuyahoga County Jail

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Update: An initial investigatory report by Cuyahoga County has been completed after an inmate overdosed at the county jail on December 3rd. The good news is that the inmate survived. The bad news is that once again contraband got into the jail, as it tends to do despite body scanners and other security measures.

In this case, it looks like the drug, which isn't identified in the report, might have come via a sealed box of Fixodent provided by a visitor, but we'll update you when and if the county completes further investigation into the incident.


(Original story 12/9/16): An inmate at the Cuyahoga County Jail overdosed last weekend, Scene has learned.

Few details beyond that are currently available.

Reached for comment, County spokesperson Mary Louise Madigan contacted the jail's wardens, who confirmed the incident, but said that the incident is currently an open investigation and involves medical information and thus couldn't release any more information.

Current stats on the number of overdoses in the jail in 2016 were also not immediately available from the county.

Earlier this year the family of Robert Sharp filed suit against the county and sheriff's department. The 36-year-old was an inmate at the county jail last year when he died of a heroin overdose. It was unclear how Sharp got the drugs into the facility but his family claims that jail officials were told by other inmates that Sharp had hidden heroin in his rectum. Staff did an X-ray, which didn't show anything peculiar, but didn't do a CT-scan, which would have showed if Sharp was hiding contraband in his rectum. The Medical Examiner found that the balloon holding the heroin ruptured and leaked into his bloodstream.

The lawsuit claimed staff "failed to institute adequate policies, procedures, customs, usages and protocols regarding identification, referral and treatment of inmates who use, take, ingest, or stuff heroin and are therefore at risk of overdosing."

Protocols and policies are in place at the jail to prevent contraband from entering the facility. For instance, the county installed a body scanner at the jail. From the sheriff's department website's summarization of modernizations and updates made in 2015:

To increase safety and security for both employees and inmates, the CCSD made substantial investments in technology. The most significant prevention initiative was the introduction of the Jails first whole body scanner. The state of the art scanner provides X-Ray quality images in less than 6 seconds. All inmates are scanned during the intake process as the first step in preventing contraband from entering the facility. To complement, a package/baggage scanner was installed in access to detect and deter contraband from entering through the main access point.

No word yet on what went wrong in the process that allowed the contraband to enter the facility in the first place or what failure in staffing or protocol prevented it from being found after.

About The Author

Vince Grzegorek

Vince Grzegorek has been with Scene since 2007 and editor-in-chief since 2012. He previously worked at Discount Drug Mart and Texas Roadhouse.
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