Pubdate: Sat, 28 May 2016
Source: Des Moines Register (IA)
Copyright: 2016 The Des Moines Register
Author: Jason Clayworth
Note: MAP archives articles exactly as published, except that our 
editors may redact the names and addresses of accused persons who 
have not been convicted of a crime, if those named are not otherwise 
public figures or officials.


At least three inmates have died in the past two years due to drug
overdoses, records show.

[name1 redacted], 34, died in a hospital in March 2014 after Black
Hawk County Jail officials found him unresponsive. It was later
determined that [name1 redacted] had ingested drugs before his arrest,
according to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

[name2 redacted], 25, of Council Bluffs, died in December. An
investigation showed that she smuggled methamphetimine into the jail
hidden in a body cavity, took the drugs, fell unconscious and died of
an overdose at a hospital. Her death is listed as a suicide.

The most recent death was that of [name3 redacted], a 38-year-old Des
Moines man found unresponsive in a Polk County Jail cell in March. He
later died at a local hospital. The coroner reported finding nine bags
of heroin in his stomach.

[name3 redacted] had been arrested by Des Moines police two days
before his March 25 death for charges related to a drug investigation.
He initially ran from police, who said they suspected that he
swallowed drugs while fleeing. Dozens of people have protested his
death, demanding answers.

Roger Kuhle with the Polk County Attorney's office said no specific
protocol dictates how jailers deal with inmates suspected of
swallowing narcotics before arrest. But staffers believe they had done
everything they could in [name3 redacted]'s case to guarantee his
safety, Kuhle said.

[name3 redacted] was examined by paramedics as he was being taken into
custody and was taken to a hospital for evaluation. Kuhle said he is
uncertain whether medical scans were conducted during the

"I'm assuming he would have been told if he had swallowed something,
'Let us help you. It could kill you,'" Kuhle said.

If police were convinced that [name3 redacted] had swallowed drugs,
they could have obtained a court order to pump his stomach to seize
evidence. Kuhle said he believes [name3 redacted] denied swallowing
the drugs even after his medical assessment, so the jail staff had no
reason to believe he was at risk.

"We've heard from some people that this was preventable, but we
disagree totally," Kuhle said.

Efforts to reach [name3 redacted]'s family were unsuccessful, and
calls to Matt Boles, a Des Moines attorney hired to represent them,
were not returned. No lawsuit has been filed in the death.

Jails rarely conduct cavity searches, John Godar, president of the
Iowa State Sheriffs' & Deputies' Association, said in response to
questions prompted by the Page County case.

Iowa law requires that such searches be done only by a doctor, unless
the arrested person voluntarily waives the requirement in writing.
When jail staffers conduct strip searches, they are not allowed to
physically touch the inmate but, instead, ask the inmate to show body
cavity locations to verify that no drugs, weapons or contraband make
their way into the jail, Godar noted.

Disability Rights Iowa, a group that reviews some of the state's
inmate deaths, supports law enforcement efforts to defer key decisions
about physical and mental health to medical professionals, as Kuhle
said was done in the Walls case.

"If hospitals are not following through or not finding anything that
would keep somebody, I'm not sure what else law enforcement could do
in those situations," said Whitney Driscoll, an attorney for
Disability Rights Iowa. "In hindsight, it's unfortunate that the
hospital didn't find the narcotics.
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D