Former inmates now account for more than half of all drug overdose deaths in Connecticut

Things were going well for Daryl McGraw in 2007. He had a good job at a hotel, a car and a place to live. But all that success became a trigger, and he eventually succumbed to the crack cocaine and marijuana addiction that had put him in prison roughly seven times since the early 1990s.

McGraw used drugs on the job and got arrested for violating his probation. Then he got fired.

“There [were] always those times of getting out of prison and thinking I had it together and picking up, or thinking I could successfully use, and end up being back in prison,” said McGraw, who was released from prison in 2010 and has been clean now for 12 years. “By the grace of God, I didn’t die, like many people have.”

McGraw is not overstating the problem. As accidental overdoses have multiplied, so have overdose victims who were former inmates.

Former inmates accounted for more than half of the people who died from drug overdoses between 2016 and 2018, according to an analysis of new state data. In 2015, former inmates made up 44% of the people who died from an overdose.

Officials with the Office of Policy and Management’s Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division discovered the uptick in drug deaths among former inmates when examining data from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the Department of Correction.

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