London

Another tense weekend at EMDC after multiple drug overdoses

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Community, Safety and Correctional Services has confirmed that three inmates overdosed on the weekend.

Three inmates were taken to hospital after overdosing while doing time at the provincial jail.

The Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre in South London. (Joseph Loiero/CBC)

Ontario's Ministry of Safety and Correctional Services has confirmed three inmates at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre suffered drug overdoses over the weekend, while incarcerated. 

The jail has been the scene of 14 deaths since 2009. The most recent was on March 31 of this year. Officials have not released the cause.  

Few details about this past weekend's incidents were released in a written statement from officials at the ministry beyond confirming the drug overdoses.

"Thankfully as a result of the quick actions of our staff who administered naloxone all inmates were alert when leaving the detention centre on route to hospital," said the statement from spokesperson, Greg Flood. "The three inmates have returned to EMDC after being assessed at hospital. It would be inappropriate to comment further given health privacy." 

How do the drugs get in?

Flood said the ministry "has policies and procedures in place to detect and deter contraband" from getting into the facility. "Staff are trained to be vigilant which includes frequent and thorough searches of any suspected contraband."

Crosses rest against a fence at London's Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre. The jail has seen 14 deaths in the last decade, some of them from apparent opioid overdoses. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Despite those efforts, and the installation of a full-body scanner that can search for external and internal contraband, drugs continue to be accessed by inmates.

A canine unit has been deployed to "serve as a deterrent to contraband, such as drugs," said the ministry's statement. 

The ministry is also trying a new ion scanners that can identify trace elements of drugs on inmate mail.