5 female inmates suffer suspected drug overdoses at Barton jail in just 5 days

The latest incidents come just over a month after a female inmate in her 30s died of a suspected overdose at the HWDC on April 12.

A male inmate in is his 40s was also taken to hospital Monday night

Ambulances could be seen outside the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre Monday evening after two female inmates suffered suspected drug overdoses. (Supplied by the McKechnie family)

Three inmates at the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre (HWDC) were taken to hospital Monday evening after suffering suspected drug overdoses.

Two of the inmates were female and one was a man in his 40s, according to Hamilton EMS superintendent Dave Thompson. The man was transported to hospital in critical condition, but was talking to paramedics by the time he arrived at hospital, he added.

The latest incidents bring the total number of suspected overdoses for women at the Barton Street jail to five within five days.

They also come just over a month after a female inmate in her 30s died of a suspected overdose at the HWDC on April 12.

"The thought of those people make me sick," said Amy McKechnie, whose brother Ryan died of a suspected overdose at the jail in 2017. "[I'm] wondering how many more and when will it stop?"

The recent spate of suspected overdoses for female inmates started late last week.

Paramedics were called to the HWDC around 7 p.m. on May 16 after reports of a patient who had overdosed, said Thompson.

While they were caring for the first woman they were told about a second patient showing signs of an opiod overdose and a second crew was dispatched to help her.

Thompson said paramedics have since been told of a third woman who was also believed to be overdosing that same night and was taken to hospital by corrections staff.

He added it's his understanding all three women were cell mates.

"All of them have been subsequently treated and released and they're back at the jail."

Hamilton paramedics have responded to more than 59 emergencies at the jail so far this year, said Thompson, including more than a dozen related to "potential drug/opioid use."

Ministry says issues won't be solved overnight

In a statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Attorney General confirmed three HWDC inmates were taken to hospital for "various health concerns on Monday."

Andrew Morrison said all three have since returned to the jail, but declined to comment further, citing concerns around private health information.

In response to questions about the frequency of overdose-related incidents at the jail he pointed to the government's recent funding announcement for millions in mental health and addiction support, including $18.3 million for the justice sector.

"Crime, violence, mental health and addictions are complex issues that cannot be solved overnight or by the provincial government alone," added Morrison. "The government is committed to working with its partners across Ontario to keep our communities safe."