The Morgan County Jail saw multiple incidences of drugs being brought behind bars this week, according to the Morgan County Sheriff's Office (MCSO).
On Monday, one male inmate overdosed on a foreign substance, MCSO said. Correctional officers administered emergency aid before medical personnel arrived to transport the inmate to the ICU, where he is currently being treated.
Corrections officers use strip searches and body scanners to prevent foreign substances and objects from entering the jail.
MCSO said a female inmate who was arrested on Monday was sent to the hospital due to an anomaly booking officers caught while performing a body scan. At the hospital, the inmate was diagnosed with constipation.
After the inmate was released back to the jail, officers later had to administer her and two other inmates Narcan.
Naloxone, or Narcan, is commonly used to reverse the effects of opioids during an overdose. The medicine can be injected into a patient's muscle or sprayed into their nose.
After receiving the emergency medication, the three female inmates were treated by medical staff, according to MCSO.
On Tuesday, officers caught a female inmate with methamphetamine.
On Wednesday, another female inmate was administered Narcan due to unusual behavior but was later revealed to not be under the influence of a foreign substance.
MCSO said the Morgan County Jail has been on lockdown multiple times, so searches can be conducted throughout the facility.
The MSCO said its officers are checked regularly for contraband. If a correctional officer is caught bringing foreign substances into the jail, the MSCO says it will make arrests if necessary.
Anonymous tips can be provided to the MSCO here.
Drugs in Alabama prisons
The problem goes far beyond lockup in Morgan County. Prisons in Alabama have been under intense scrutiny over the last couple of years. In 2020, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against the state of Alabama concerning poor prison sanitation, violence between inmates and excessive force from staff, and sexual assault.
The lawsuit resulted from a multi-year investigation conducted by the DOJ Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Offices for the Northern, Middle and Southern districts of Alabama.
In October, Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation authorizing the ADOC to build two new 4,000-bed mega prisons to address the issues. Though the plan faced political and economic obstacles, it secured a $509 million bond deal last month.
The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) insists it is enforcing a "zero-tolerance policy."
"The presence of illegal drugs is a challenge faced by correctional systems across the country," said a spokesman in the Public Information Office of the ADOC. "Criminals often go to significant lengths to bypass security systems and seek to introduce drugs and other types of illegal contraband into the system. The ADOC is committed to enforcing our zero-tolerance policy on contraband and works very hard to eradicate it from our facilities, including by referral for prosecution of those interdicted."
DOJ cites illegal drugs in prison as a problem
In a 2019 report, the DOJ said it believed the ADOC was not keeping prisoners safe by allowing illegal drugs inside the prisons. They cited an incident on a Friday in September 2017, where officers at Ventress Correctional Facility performed a pat down search on a prisoner only to find 17 cigarettes laced with drugs and two bags, one of meth and another filled with a hallucinogenic known as "cookie dough."
On the next Tuesday, officers at Ventress found 12 plastic bags of an unknown substance, 79 cigarettes laced with drugs, two bags of "cookie dough," and another bag of meth.
Another example included an incident at Bibb Correctional Facility where a prisoner high on drugs stabbed another prisoner in the back in August 2017. In April 2018, a Donaldson prisoner was discovered to be "likely under the influence of narcotics" when he was taken to the hospital for stab wounds.
The DOJ said illegal drugs in Alabama prisons were "highly prevalent" and accused the ADOC of being "unable or unwilling to prevent the introduction and presence of drugs in its prisons."
It seems the prevalence of controlled substances in prisons remains an issue. In a quarterly report ending on March 31, 2022, the ADOC reported almost 60 pounds of illicit drugs were confiscated from Alabama prisons from January to March of this year.
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