Three Spokane County Jail inmates hospitalized after taking 'unknown powdery substance'

Several inmates at the Spokane County Jail were hospitalized in one night after ingesting an "unknown powdery substance" that was smuggled into the facility.

At 11pm May 2, two female inmates at the jail were found unconscious in a dormitory, per a Spokane County press release. After jail staff applied "lifesaving measures" and administered Narcan nasal spray — a medication intended to prevent fatal opioid overdoses — the two inmates regained consciousness. They were then transported to Sacred Heart Medical Center for further treatment before returning to the facility.

Then, at 6:30 a.m. Friday morning, another female inmate "displaying the same symptoms" was discovered, in that she was unconscious. After administering CPR and Narcan, she was revived and taken to the hospital, where she remains in the Intensive Care Unit, per the release.

The incident is currently under investigation by the Spokane County Detention Services, Jared Webley, a county spokesperson, tells the Inlander.

“I’m extremely proud of the actions of our staff," Interim Detention Services Director Mike Sparber says in the release. "They saved these women’s lives. While we aim to avoid these incidents from ever happening in the first place, it is reassuring to know that when these situations occur, we’re prepared."

Jeffry Finer, a local defense attorney, says that the problem of licit and illicit substances getting smuggled into the Spokane County Jail is "ancient and ongoing."

"Over the years and up to the present, we hear anecdotes of electronics, coffee beans, prescription medications, needles, dental floss and all manner of objects that can be used safely or dangerously, depending on someone's intention [getting smuggled in]," he says. "There are times [when] this jail seems to be a sieve."

"There are so many ways that contraband can come in: through inmates who work as trustees, through staff — guards or medical," Finer adds.

"It’s a high priority to make sure that drugs are not getting smuggled in," Webley says. "But any time you’re dealing with an illicit substance, people are going to be very creative about getting them in where they’re not supposed to be."

As to whether any jail staff may have been involved in smuggling drugs in this instance, Webley says that the investigation will have to run its course: "We don't know anything [yet]."

The incidents follow a string of inmate deaths in the Spokane County Jail. Eight people died  while in Spokane County Detention Services custody in the facility between last August and June 2017 (three died by hanging themselves with bedsheets).

Last summer, a cellmate of one of the deceased inmates, Shane Carson, described to the Inlander how Carson appeared to be going through withdrawals at the time of his death. However, autopsy records obtained by KREM2 indicate that Carson died of an overdose of multiple drugs — including methamphetamine and morphine.

"We’re continuing to try and find out how these drugs are getting in," Webley says.

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About The Author

Josh Kelety

As a staff writer, Josh covers criminal justice issues and Spokane County government. Previously, he worked as a reporter for Seattle Weekly. Josh grew up in Port Townsend and graduated from the University of Washington. Message him through Signal @ (360) 301-3490.