Contraband Problem Grows As Three Inmates Overdose At Jess Dunn CC

Thursday, October 25th 2018, 9:53 pm
By: News On 6

Three prisoners who overdosed at Jess Dunn Correctional Center are alive because of Narcan. Now, the staff is trying to figure out how the drugs got into the prison in the first place.

The director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections says contraband isn't just an issue at Jess Dunn but statewide as well. He says in order for prisons to deal with the contraband issues they are seeing they need more funding.

Security guards found the first prisoner struggling to breathe, his face blue, his heartbeat irregular. Department of Corrections staff says the guards immediately started CPR and gave the prisoner Narcan.

"It brings them back, literally. It can take someone who is not breathing, or not breathing very much and shock their system," said Matt Elliot with ODOC.

Minutes later, a second prisoner was found with overdose symptoms and then a third. Corrections staff say security guards gave both men Narcan.

"It's a risk whenever you run a prison.  The vast majority of our inmates have a substance abuse problem. We can’t treat the vast majority of them," said Elliot.

It's an issue the Oklahoma Department of Corrections says they are trying to combat. In an effort to prevent contraband from getting in they have been working with the FCC to detect and block cell phone signals inside prisons.

"Our facilities have cell sense towers, which can detect a cell phone signal and someone who is carrying one," said Elliot.

This year alone ODOC officials say they have confiscated almost 6,000 cell phones. Elliott says more needs to be done to combat the issues they are seeing but says their funding can only stretch so far.

“Crumbling facilities, lack of staff, lack of staff pay, and facilities that have staffing shortages, staffing issues,” said Elliot. “Until we get the resources that we need, it's going to be harder to monitor the contraband issue behind bars."

Elliot tells me their next step is to figure out how the drugs got into the prison and then go from there.