Civilian review board recommends jail inmates be given access to naloxone

The Law Enforcement Review Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department that inmates be given access to naloxone, a life-saving drug that can reverse opiate overdose.

At present, members of the prison carry doses of naloxone, which is given by nasal spray, and have used it dozens, if not hundreds of times. However, penitentiary health care professionals advise detainees to have easy access to living quarters so that an overdose person can receive naloxone as soon as possible.

The evaluation committee policy making reflects the guidelines of the National Committee for Corrective Health Care, which recommends that naloxone be “readily available” to all people in a facility to include detainees “and that inmates are trained in” opioid overdose and its signs, the correct technique of naloxone administration and, basic procedures, including the performance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation “.

The executive director of the review board, Paul Parker, said on Tuesday that the policy recommendation “seems to be the next logical step in the effort to minimize, reduce the number of deaths that occur.” The council provides political oversight of the sheriff and county’s San Diego counties.

The Sheriff’s Department is not required to make recommendations to the review committee, but generally does. A spokesman for The San Diego Union-Tribune did not answer any questions.

A report from San Diego County Jail Analysis Consulting, released last month and commissioned by a review committee, found that people in San Diego jails have the highest rate of overdose deaths among the 12 largest counties in California.

Last June, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that overdoses in local prisons had skyrocketed from 11 in 2018 to 75 in 2020 to 53 in the first five months of 2021. An MP said at the time that it was the worst he had seen.

“The inmates are using the drugs even after watching the ODs the day before,” he said.

It is not clear how opiates get into San Diego County jails. During the recruitment, detainees are verbally warned that drug trafficking in prison through a body cavity can be deadly. Prison staff rely on body scanners to detect smuggling, but the machines are not entirely reliable, officials say.

Current and former inmates told The San Diego Union-Tribune that people are turning to illicit drugs to compensate for the side effects of opioid withdrawal, which can last for days and include vomiting, seizures and muscle aches.

Last year, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department launched a pilot program that placed two doses of naloxone in each unit of the North County Penitentiary in Castaic. One month after the release, the detainees were believed to have used naloxone to save the lives of two men who had collapsed after ingesting fentanyl, a powerful opiate.

Aaron Fisher, a member of a team of lawyers who sued the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office for medical and mental health care in prisons, described giving detainees access to naloxone as “a safe, common sense, urgently needed measure to save lives “.

“Other penitentiary systems, such as Los Angeles, have taken this step and we know that lives have been saved as a result,” Fischer said. “Why is the penitentiary system here waiting to protect the people of San Diego County?”

Last week the lawyers filed a lawsuit in federal court, asking a judge to immediately order the sheriff to give detainees access to naloxone. The deposition also called on prisons to review the unreliable body scanner system and apply medication, which reduces withdrawal effects.

Gretchen Burns Bergman, executive director of the non-profit organization A New PATH, for Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing, welcomed the policy news.

“Naloxone should have been readily available,” he said, “but that’s good.”

In 2020, near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, A New PATH had predicted prison with 1,000 kits of naloxone for people who were released early, along with a short instructional video on the proper use of nasal spray. But according to The San Diego Union-Tribune, the kits were never distributed. the department eventually returned them because they had expired.

A New PATH provided more than 1,000 extra kits, but those too remained unused, Bergman told reporters.

A spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office said the kits had not been distributed because the department had not reached an agreement with the International Union of Service Workers, representing the medical staff, to distribute the kits.

The Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Council also approved a second policy recommendation Tuesday, asking the Sheriff’s Department to create policies and procedures that will guide the use of the fentanyl-smelling dog. The review committee found that there are no such policies at present.

The recommendation states that the dog should be used to search all areas of the prison and all people entering the prison “to include visitors, inmates and staff. and carry out the smell of people already inside a facility, to include visitors, inmates and staff. “

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Civilian review board recommends jail inmates be given access to naloxone Source link Civilian review board recommends jail inmates be given access to naloxone

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