Michiana women need signatures for opioid safety petition

NOW: Michiana women need signatures for opioid safety petition

ELKHART, Ind. --- Hundreds of people are demanding local jails to give medical care to drug addicts behind bars.

A petition started by two Michiana women is picking up steam and getting people to take action. 

Click here to sign the petition. 

The petition is in memory of Ryan Hein, son of Charlotte Beheyt, who died Jan. 20. in police custody. The La Porte County Sherriff's Office said a jail deputy was doing a routine cell check at 8:33 p.m., discovered his body, and immediately began to perform CPR. 

“He was in a bad state," Beheyt said. "He was in jail and the demons from the withdrawal got to him and took his own life and it was the most devastating of my life and it’s never been the same since.”

Beheyt said her son pleaded for help and the city jailers did nothing to help him. Now, she and her close friend are starting a petition they say can save many lives.

“We’re asking for mandatory immediate mental health and drug evaluations from a medical professional,” said Tammy Gambill, the petition creator. 

She and Beheyt are asking for doctors or registered nurses to assess inmates immediately during intake because they said they're more aware of the signs of a drug user. 

“Someone going through withdrawals I mean a deputy or jail intake person may be familiar with some of the signs," said Gambill. "But what about all of the signs they’re not familiar with.”

Gambill said more county and city jails should mirror the Elkhart County jail, which according to their website, immediately assesses inmates for suicidal tendencies and medical issues.

Back in 2012, the FBI Uniform Crime Report reports that Elkhart County made 338 drug arrests, La Porte County has 787 drug arrests, and the entire country had over a million drug arrests. Gambill said some of those men and women are just like Hein. 

“There are many who are dying in jail from withdrawal and suicide,” Gambill said.

Beheyt said the two want to save lives with this petition. 

“We don’t want another one to die especially when they’re in the system where they could be getting taken care of,” Beheyt said.

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