Lawyers call for better access to life-saving drug to combat opioid overdoses in prison
SACRAMENTO >> A pair of suspected fatal overdoses on California’s death row this week has increased the call for prison guards and inmates to carry a drug to help those who overdose on opioids.
the cause, because there are no adverse side-effects, said Liz Gransee, a spokeswoman for the federal receiver. She and corrections officials could not immediately comment on the request to expand its availability.
Anyone can now easily obtain naloxone at a drug store after undergoing brief training in how to administer the inhaler, Fama said, so he said even inmates should be trained in its use.
Autopsies are set for today for Joseph Perez Jr. and Herminio Serna, who died while awaiting execution at San Quentin State Prison north of San Francisco. But the Marin County coroner’s office said toxicology results could take weeks.
In the meantime, prison officials are investigating how contraband may have
been brought into death row and are increasing education to inmates on the dangers of abusing illicit drugs.
Serna, 53, was one of three men sentenced to death for killings committed during efforts by the Nuestra Familia gang to take over the drug trade in San Jose. Perez, 47, was sentenced to death for the 1998 killing of a woman who was stabbed and strangled during a robbery of her home in suburban Lafayette.
Aside from drugs, officials are still investigating how an inmate on the highly secure death row obtained the weapon used to kill 30-year-old Jonathan Fajardo in October.
California officials have spent millions of dollars systemwide, with limited success, to stem the
smuggling of contraband by inmates, visitors and employees. They blamed smuggled Fentanyl for killing one inmate and sickening 11 others at another Northern California prison in April.
“It’s obviously extremely difficult to stop because you’re talking about grains of Fentanyl that can be lethal,” Fama said.
Prison officials blamed “acute drug toxicity” for the deaths of condemned inmates Emilio Avalos in November 2017 and Joe Henry Abbott in January. They are the most recent since overdoses were blamed for killing two condemned inmates in 2005.
Corrections department spokeswoman Terry Thornton said prison officials rely on coroners to determine the cause of death.