3 female inmates survive overdosing in Duval County jail

Sheriff says heroin likely smuggled into JSO Pretrial Detention Facility

By Jim Piggott - Reporter, Erik Avanier - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Three woman being held in the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Pretrial Detention Center downtown overdosed, but were treated and survived, Sheriff Mike Williams confirmed to News4Jax.

The three were taken to UF Health Jacksonville, where they were recovering as of Thursday evening.

Williams said they likely overdosed on heroin sneaked in by one of the prisoners.

The sheriff said he could not give more information at this time because the entire matter -- including how the drugs were smuggled into the jail -- is under investigation.

News4Jax spoke with attorney Gene Nichols about the liabilities involved in the case.  

“As they were making their way into the jail, somehow got them (drugs) past the guards and got them onto the floor," attorney Gene Nichols said. "Whoever brought it in is lucky these women who took the drugs have survived.”

Every inmate brought into the jail goes through an intake security room, where Nichols said they receive a full pat-down.

“It is unknown whether or not we’re talking about a full-body cavity search for any and every individual such that, if a woman wanted to place drugs in certain areas of her body, I don’t think the Sheriff’s Office is going to be peeking into every single corner of an individual’s body," he said.

Nichols said he doesn’t think mandatory cavity searches will become new policy as a result of the breach.

“I do think there will probably be clues this individual exhibited that someone may have missed," he said.

Nichols said investigators will be working to determine how the women got the drugs into their system. 

“If there was a needle, if someone got that into the jail, how did the individuals get a hold of the needle?" he said. "If it was smoked, how did they get a hold of that?"

According to Nichols, Duval County could possibly face lawsuits over the security breach. 

"The Sheriff's Office is supposed to provide a safe environment," Nichols said. "They're responsible for every one of those individuals who are in that jail."

Nichols also weighed in the possible charges, saying the smuggler could face drug possession and drug-trafficking charges.

"We know that person will face introduction of contraband into the facility," Nichols said. 

The Sheriff's Office continues to investigate.

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