ADC says K2 incidents are down after restrictive mail policy; still greater than in 2016 | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, December 14, 2017

ADC says K2 incidents are down after restrictive mail policy; still greater than in 2016

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 2:12 PM

The Arkansas Department of Correction has released data showing that K2 drug incidents are down from 99 per month in early 2017 to just 74 a month. A prison spokesman said the reduction is "in large part" due to a restrictive mail policy that went into effect Aug. 21.

click to enlarge New data from ADC on K2 incidents - ADC
  • ADC
  • New data from ADC on K2 incidents

The mail policy confined inmate mail to three pages and, instead of giving inmates the original copies of their mail, provided them photocopies.

"Inmates were introducing drugs into the facility by having mail soaked in liquefied drugs or having the drugs placed under stamps," Solomon Graves, ADC spokesman, said by way of explanation of the new policy.

The ACLU said of the mail policy, at the time it was announced, that "it has serious constitutional problems."

As we reported in October — with a cover story detailing multiple deaths suspected to be K2-related in Arkansas prisons — synthetic marijuana has become increasingly popular in ADC. K2 incidents rose from 6 in 2013 to 707 in just the first seven months of 2017. Our sources said it was mostly introduced by guards and not by mail. Data backed this up, too.

When the mail policy was announced, in July, ADC told me:

— 4 out of 466 K2 incidents in 2016 were mail related
— 16 out of 707 K2 incidents in 2017 (thru July) were mail related

The lack of mail incidents does not mean that the crackdown on mail has not led to the reduction, necessarily, because it could have helped stem off a supplier.

Still, these reductions seem potentially small.

If we take the 74 K2 incidents a month and average it over a year that would still be 888 incidents a year, or almost double the 466 incidents that occurred in 2016.

click to enlarge Our graph with data used before the announcement of 74 K2 incidents a month
  • Our graph with data used before the announcement of 74 K2 incidents a month

Graves said the ADC is also introducing others measures.

"The Department's Mental Health Division is also reviewing multiple educational resources related to K2. If approved these videos will be shown to the inmate population at all Units and during visitation. The Department is optimistic that each of these efforts together, will lead to continued reductions in the number of K2-Related Incidents within the Department."

In November, KATV looked into many more K2-related deaths in ADC, finding 16 deaths in 14 months (July 1, 2016, through Aug. 31 of 2017) related to the drug. KATV also released a video showing inmates while high on K2.

The ADC cracking down on mail to stop K2 does continue a trend of how the department has responded to controversy: more restrictions on inmates. In addition to the new mail policy, the state Board of Corrections recently approved the construction of 400 more isolation cells.

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