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Overdose death in county jail

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our son was in the county jail on accused charges but not yet convicted. He spent seven months in the jail. The jail doesn’t search light offenders or those with traffic sentences that are booked into the jail. Because of this lack of security and neglected searches this inmate was able to smuggle into the jail pure fentanyl, that he sold within the jail. Our son was told it was heroin and took some of the drug. He died within minutes. The jail claims they can’t get enough evidence to convict the dealer, although two other inmates are willing to testify on who supplied the drug. The jail

Question: do we have a viable claim to pursue legal action in suing the county for negligence and if so, would a court even consider looking at the matter. Is a “wrongful death” suit even a option? I’m looking for opinions, statements, suggestions, and possible representation. Thank you


Queen of the Not-Rights
My condolences on the loss of your son; I can't imagine the heartache.

To better assist you, would you tell us the name of the state this happened in?


Senior Member
I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your son. It's tragic to lose a child under any circumstance.

Depending upon the state your son was in, the law may prohibit strip searches of incoming bookings absent specific, articulable cause or a court order. This is the case in my state as of some years ago. But, even though such searches are not lawful, there is still a legal presumption that the agency operating the jail is responsible for the safety of the inmates housed within. How much of this might be mitigated by the fact that an inmate voluntarily consumed a controlled substance, I cannot say. You will definitely need to engage an attorney in this matter.
Thank you. Incident happened in Ohio
The jail can be sued. Currently the city of Akron is facing suit for not searching someone they arrested who ended up somehow shooting themselves while handcuffed and locked in a patrol car. Contact an attorney that deals with suing government entities. Your son should not have died and the fact that video went missing and the prosecutor won't attempt to help is also ridiculous. Definitely contact a lawyer in Columbus.


Senior Member
Incidents like these are precisely why jails fight laws that restrict these searches for inmates being housed into the facility. Unfortunately, it takes an incident like this that results in both death and liability to roll back such restrictions.
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