Ark. Prison Officials Meet On Rising Inmate Drug Deaths

Sep 10, 2018

FIVE INMATES DEAD - In just two weeks, five inmates have died allegedly after using K2, a synthetic form of marijuana that was smuggled into the maximum security Varner unit near Pine Bluff, Ark.
Credit Courtesy: Ark Dept of Corrections

ARKANSAS PRISON DEATHS - Despite new prison mail policies,   Five Arkansas Prison inmates have died within days of each other allegedly  due  to  overdoses  from  the substance known as  K-2 which is a synthetic drug that mimics the effects of marijuana.   Inmate  mail  is one method where contraband, including drugs,  is  smuggled  into prisons. 

The inmates were found dead within a four-day span at the Arkansas State Department of Correction's Varner Unit, a maximum security prison southeast of Pine Bluff.  According to a report by public radio KUAR in Little Rock, officials from the Arkansas Department of Corrections and the state Board of Corrections testified at a joint legislative subcommittee hearing last week focus on efforts to curb deaths due to illegal drug usage in state prisons.  

K2 Synthetic marijuana has been marketed as "herbal incense" and labeled "not for human consumption".
Credit Courtesy: wikimedia-commons

Correction Department spokesman Solomon Graves said the agency will suggest imposing stricter penalties for the drug, which shares a classification with marijuana. 

"It should not be a Schedule VI drug. K2 has no redeeming qualities. Our hope is that if we can increase the penalties for the drug, it will increase the deterrent value" explained Graves.

Arkansas Corrections department officials say 13 inmates died from complications related to using K2 last year. So far this year, 13 inmates have died of drug overdoses in Arkansas prisons with six of those deaths confirmed as related to K2.