1 Mich. prison inmate dead, 2 hospitalized with ODs
A suboxone strip was found in the cell of one of the prisoners who was hospitalized
By Paul Egan
Detroit Free Press
LANSING, Mich. — One inmate died Sunday at Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater and two others were sent to the hospital with suspected drug overdoses, a Corrections Department spokesman said Monday.
Seth Zakora, 21, died Sunday, Corrections Department spokesman Chris Gautz told the Free Press.
"The cause will be determined by the medical examiner," Gautz said. "The Michigan State Police have been to the facility and are working with our staff to investigate."
Gautz would not confirm or deny reports from prison sources that Zakora died from a suspected drug overdose, but said two other Lakeland prisoners were sent to the hospital over the weekend for suspected drug overdoses.
"One has returned to the facility, and the other remains at a hospital for treatment," Gautz said. "The drug used by the prisoners will have to be determined by medical testing."
Though a definite connection has not been made, a suboxone strip was found in the cell of one of the prisoners who was hospitalized, Gautz said.
Suboxone is a medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of addiction to opiates such as heroin.
Its abuse has been a particular problem in prisons because it is available in small, film-like strips that can be easily smuggled.
"It is a constant battle that we and other departments face on a daily basis," Gautz said.
"We have taken a variety of steps to keep it out of our facilities, including in a number of facilities, cutting out the stamps on incoming pieces of mail before they are delivered to the prisoner as we found people wishing to introduce the contraband would put the thin strips behind the stamp."
Gautz said a team of Corrections Department staffers are working on other ways to stop the drug.
"Our staff do a great job each day watching for and stopping the introduction of contraband, whether it is through the mail, or from people who come through the gates attempting to smuggle it in," he said.
Heroin also remains a problem inside the state prison system. Gautz said in 2015 that between 51 and 96 disciplinary punishments were handed out for confirmed heroin or morphine abuse or possession each year between 2010 and 2014 and there was one heroin death in each of the years 2012, 2013, and 2014. Updated figures were not available Monday.
Zakora was serving time for sexual assault in Eaton County. A relative could not be reached for comment Monday.