Facility examines security measures after inmates overdose

GREENFIELD — Hancock County Community Corrections officials say employees will conduct more thorough inmate searches and more frequent bunk checks after two people overdosed on drugs smuggled into the facility.

Director Pat Powers said his workers have concluded an internal investigation into the incident that hospitalized two inmates Sunday night and plan to turn those findings over to Hancock County Sheriff’s Department detectives, who will handle a criminal investigation.

Medics were called to the facility Sunday night after two inmates who are part of the work-release program became ill. Both men, whose names have not been released, were taken to Hancock Regional Hospital. One has since been released by doctors and booked into the Hancock County Jail. The other is still receiving treatment at the hospital, Powers said.

The inmates are believed to have used Spice, a form of synthetic marijuana, and bath salts, a synthetic stimulant.

All work-release inmates are permitted to leave the facility for work during the day and then are required to return to the facility at night. Police believe a third inmate got the drugs while out of the building for work and then smuggled the drugs into the facility, Powers said.

All inmates are searched when they return to the facility, and those involved were subject to those procedures last weekend, Powers said. Additionally, workers walked through the dormitory where the men were found about an hour before the alleged overdose occurred, he said.

More diligent searches and an increase in bunk checks should help prevent such incidents from occurring, Powers said.

Investigators say they will wait until toxicology reports return before seeking new charges against the inmates. The facility is not releasing the names of those involved as the investigation continues, Powers said.

The three men involved had been sentenced to serve time in the jail but qualified to serve that time next door in the work-release program, which is designed to accommodate nonviolent offenders without lengthy criminal histories. Any inmate who violates the program requirements can be placed back into the jail automatically and without new charges, Powers said.

However, new charges cannot be pressed against the three inmates involved until toxicologists determine what the men took, Prosecutor Brent Eaton said.

Sheriff’s detectives have interviewed three inmates. The man accused of sneaking the drugs into the facility denies being involved, Powers said.

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Noelle Steele is editor of the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3232 or nsteele@greenfieldreporter.com.