Nearly 1,000 men and women in California prisons overdosed last year and required emergency medical attention in what officials acknowledge is part of an alarming spike in opioid use by those behind bars, according to records obtained by The Chronicle.
The number of inmates treated for drug or alcohol overdoses jumped from 469 to 997 from 2015 to 2018 — a 113% increase. While many of the prisoners survived, the most recent data available show drug-related inmate deaths are on the rise, too — from 17 in 2006 to 40 in 2017.
Total overdoses surged across the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s 36 institutions, which hold more than 126,000 people. But a review of data provided by California Correctional Health Care Services shows the uptick was especially severe in a handful of places.
Incidents at San Quentin and Solano state prisons remained steady from 2017 to 2018, with 12 and eight overdoses each year, respectively. Meanwhile, Salinas Valley State Prison saw overdoses jump from 42 in 2017 to 100 last year; and at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, a lockup in San Diego County, they ballooned from 32 to 83 over the same period.
The trend in California’s prisons reflects the nationwide opioid epidemic. In 2017, 47,600 people died of opioid overdoses, compared with 42,249 in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To read more of Megan Cassidy's article, please click here.