by Monte McCoin
On July 11, 2018, Robert Higdon, Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, announced that a $190,000 settlement had been reached with the state’s prison system over its failure to properly document the distribution of prescribed controlled substances at the Central Prison and the North Carolina Correctional Center for Women between 2014 and 2016.
In a press release, Higdon said federal investigators didn’t find evidence of criminal activity, but that it was unclear whether prison medical staff deliberately avoided paperwork to divert the drugs for illegal purposes or legitimately dispensed the medication but failed to properly document doing so.
“While no unlawful use of controlled substances was detected, the substandard recordkeeping provided fertile ground for improper diversion,” the release stated. “The handling of prescription controlled substances inside our prisons poses some unique challenges. And yet given the possibility of illegal diversion to inmates and others, scrupulous recordkeeping and tracking of controlled substances is essential.”
The National Commission on Correctional Health Care issued a position statement in April 2015 that recognized the prevalence of opioid abuse in prisons and jails as the third leading cause of death among prisoners, following illness and suicide. As the United States faces an opioid epidemic both within and outside correctional facilities, ensuring that prison employees follow proper procedures when dispensing prescribed controlled substances has become a priority.
Sources: www.newsobserver.com, www.ncchc.org
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