State in­mate lawyers want in­creased use of life-saving drug

The Fresno Bee - - News - BY DON THOMP­SON

A pair of sus­pected fa­tal over­doses on the na­tion’s largest death row this week is adding ur­gency to an ef­fort to al­low Cal­i­for­nia prison guards and even in­mates to carry a drug that can save the lives of those who over­dose on opi­oids.

At­tor­neys made the re­quest ear­lier this year to state cor­rec­tions of­fi­cials and the fed­eral re­ceiver who con­trols prison med­i­cal care un­der a lon­grun­ning law­suit, Steven Fama of the non­profit Prison Law Of­fice said Thurs­day.

Forty Cal­i­for­nia in­mates died of drug over­doses last year, ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics pro­vided to The As­so­ci­ated Press on Thurs­day in ad­vance of their pub­li­ca­tion. That’s dou­ble the num­ber of drug-re­lated deaths in 2014 and 2015, ac­cord­ing to an an­nual death re­view for the re­ceiver’s of­fice. Cal­i­for­nia’s long-term drug over­dose rate is more than three times the na­tion­wide prison rate.

Prison nurses be­gan car­ry­ing the over­dosere­vers­ing drug nalox­one in 2016.

It is rou­tinely ad­min­is­tered when any in­mate is found un­con­scious, no mat­ter the cause, be­cause there are no ad­verse side­ef­fects, said Liz Gransee, a spokes­woman for the fed­eral re­ceiver. She and cor­rec­tions of­fi­cials could not im­me­di­ately com­ment on the re­quest to ex­pand its avail­abil­ity.

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