Drug deaths and overdoses plague Philly jails, raising concerns about plans to step up Kensington arrests

The Philadelphia Inquirer, 07/07/24: “Donna McDonough used to pray that her daughter, Kelly Ann Crawford, would be arrested.

Crawford had bipolar disorder and was addicted to fentanyl and Xanax. She’d tried drug treatment several times, McDonough said. But she always ended up back in Kensington, where she was unhoused and broke but somehow regularly found a way to feed the stray cats. Her mother said that nothing — not her daughter’s deep love for her two children, not her dreams of a second career as a veterinary tech — had been enough to help Crawford find her way out.

So, said McDonough, of Wilmington, ‘I often prayed that she would wind up in jail, so that she would be clean and find a program that worked for her.’

On Dec. 11, 2023, Crawford, then 43, was arrested for drug possession and reportedly jailed on a bench warrant.

But it wasn’t the answer to her mother’s prayers.

The next day, McDonough got a call that her daughter had been found unresponsive in a cell.

On Dec. 14, Crawford was pronounced dead — one of at least 25 people who have died in the Philadelphia jails since 2018 of accidents related to drug intoxication, an Inquirer review of medical examiner’s data and court records has found.

Some of the deaths were from overdoses; other people were going through withdrawal when they died, according to court filings.”

Read the full article here.