Indiana state Sen. Mike Bohacek, R.-Indianapolis, examines a newly installed full body scanner at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City. 
Photo provided/ Indiana Department of Correction
Indiana state Sen. Mike Bohacek, R.-Indianapolis, examines a newly installed full body scanner at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City. Photo provided/ Indiana Department of Correction
Three inmates of Indiana State Prison in Michigan City have died of drug overdoses since September, even as prisons all over the state have enacted stricter rules to try to stem the flow of drugs.

“I know they can get it, but still, your jail ain’t clean,” Alberta Lee said she told the warden in the wake of her son’s death in February. “Somebody had to bring it in there to him.”

In 2017, Indiana’s Department of Correction banned greeting cards from being sent to inmates, after a rise in the number of cards soaked in the liquid synthetic drug K2. State prisons have also adopted the process of delivering copies of their mail to prisoners.

Early last year, ISP banned contact between prisoners and their visitors. The prison announced on Facebook last year that everyone entering may carry only a clear plastic bag, to more easily spot possible contraband.

Every month, 10 percent of the prisoner population is randomly drug tested, Warden Ron Neal told a local newspaper after a protest outside the prison last summer, and random shakedowns have increased.

ISP and the DOC declined to address the deaths or describe their drug-fighting protocols. A public records request and follow-up inquiry for how many have recently died of overdoses in Indiana prisons elicited no response from the DOC.

But according to the LaPorte County coroner’s office, citing prison personnel and autopsy reports:

• On Sept. 30, 2018, 44-year-old Myron Doram was found unresponsive in his cell. Six doses of Narcan were administered to no avail. Fentanyl and methamphetamine were found in his system. He had survived an earlier overdose on July 25, saved by two doses of Narcan.

• On Feb. 1, 46-year-old Benjamin H. Lee Sr. “was causing a disturbance in his prison cell, subsequently became violent with the prison staff before becoming unresponsive.” Autopsy showed some heart irregularities and “multiple superficial abrasions” about his body. Toxicology tests showed an overdose of amphetamines.

• On Feb. 10, 33-year-old Mitchell Fulton was found “unresponsive in the pod on his knees near the bed.” A needle was found under his body, and Narcan was ineffective. Tests showed several drugs in his system, including amphetamines and fentanyl, and his death was ruled a “multiple drug overdose.”
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