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Mom of inmate who died from suspected Flakka overdose wants prison system change

Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 2:13 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The mother of an Alabama inmate who died after likely overdosing on the synthetic drug Flakka is now calling for change in the state’s prison system after seeing our reporting on videos showing inmates abusing the drug inside Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) facility.

Christina Craig saw our recent report on videos that appear to be recorded and uploaded to YouTube by inmates in Alabama prisons, and recognized the name of the drug she kept hearing - Flakka.

“I had researched it a little bit and it said something like a bath salt and so forth, but after seeing your newscast and seeing how it done them, it disgusts me,” says Craig. “It hurt me, it brought back a lot of - made me think ‘this could’ve been my child. That’s probably how my child’s body locked up, that’s probably how he performed.’”

Christina’s son, Chester Washington, was an inmate at Bibb Correctional Facility back in March of 2020, and Craig said he had only been there for about a week or so when she got the call no mother wants to hear.

“I got a phone call saying my child had passed away.”

Washington died at DCH two days after he was taken from the prison, after Christina says prison staff told her he passed out and was foaming at the mouth. His autopsy report says he reportedly smoked synthetic marijuana laced with Flakka - the drug referred to in so many of these videos we found online.

“I still didn’t dig into it as deep, until I seen your newscast. And I seen how it like literally paralyzes the people’s muscles,” said Craig.

The autopsy found fentanyl and synthetic cannabinoids in Washington’s system, and says he likely died as a result of an overdose on those complicated by his diabetes. His mom wants to know how he got those drugs to begin with.

“I had no one to help me with this situation,” says Craig. “No one. Everybody that I turned to, gave my information to, oh well that happens there, when is this gonna stop? When is this gonna stop happening? When are we gonna get to the root of what’s happening? Why is this able to happen?”

“If we get to the root of it, and the inmates aren’t just the root of it,” Craig alleges. “It’s the staff. If we get to the root of it, some of these deaths will be eliminated, we wouldn’t have this, it wouldn’t go on.”

We asked the ADOC about Chester’s case and the issue of flakka inside Alabama prisons, and they stated they cannot provide any more information about Washington’s death because of the ongoing nature of the case.

As to the issue of how these drugs are getting into prisons, the ADOC said in a statement, “The presence of illegal drugs is a challenge faced by correctional systems across the country. Criminals often go to significant lengths to bypass our security systems and seek to introduce drugs and other types of illegal contraband into our system. The ADOC is committed to enforcing our zero-tolerance policy on contraband and works very hard to eradicate it from our facilities, including by referral for prosecution of those interdicted.”

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