Mother Jones, February 5, 2017
Julia Lurie

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[...] Yet as the nationwide opioid epidemic continues to spiral, more and more inmates who use heroin, painkillers, or methadone are showing up in jails across the country, where withdrawal treatment can be rudimentary. "So many more people are coming in hooked on opioids," says David Lane, the attorney representing the Tabors. "If the jails are not trained and they're not ready for it, you get a Tyler Tabor."

No organization tracks how many people have died from drug withdrawal in jail, but Mother Jones found 20 lawsuits filed between 2014 and 2016 alleging that an inmate died from opiate withdrawal complications. That number likely represents just a fraction of all jail withdrawal deaths, Lane says. In addition to the counties, many families also sue the companies that public jails often contract with to provide health care—like Corizon Health, in the Tabors' case. [...]

addiction criminal law health law policy public health