The presence of fentanyl and other new opioids in prisons are altering the lives of inmates and how correctional officers perceive their job.
Officers are frequently forced to respond to overdose emergencies, resuscitating prisoners with naloxone.
Fentanyl is seen by correctional officers as great risk to their safety in prisons.
One of the latest incidents happened at San Francisco jail. Eight sheriff’s deputies and five inmates have been hospitalized after being exposed to a drug that’s suspected to be fentanyl.
Deputies discovered an unresponsive inmate inside the jail and began CPR. Paramedics from the San Francisco Fire Department arrived and administered Narcan to the unconscious inmate along with four other inmates who showed symptoms of intoxication from an unidentified narcotic. Officials believed the drug is fentanyl.
Paramedics transported the inmates along with the five deputies who performed CPR on the inmate to San Francisco General Hospital.
Three additional deputies also began showing symptoms of exposure to fentanyl and have been taken to hospitals for treatment. All deputies and inmates have recovered, officials said.
Prisons often house a disproportionate number of illicit opiate users. Despite efforts, illegal contraband is coming into the prisons. Correctional officers may come into contact with fentanyl during the course of their daily activities.
One recommendation for protection against fentanyl and its analogues is to provide correctional officers and other law-enforcement personnel with PPE and special training in conducting an on-scene risk assessment.