For Kini Seawright, and all the other women who bury a loved one due to police or prison violence...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

ASPC-Tucson deaths in custody: Christopher Rankhorn, 31.

Last May, four young Arizona state prisoners died under suspicious circumstances all within a week or so of eachother. One of those young men was 31 year old Christopher Rankhorn. The media never followed up on the cause of his death - from what his family told me, though, it sounds like he overdosed on his psych meds and the ADC ruled it "accidental". 

Christopher's medication at the time he died was Neurontin (aka gabapentin), an apparently increasingly common drug in the state prisons. Originally developed as an anti-convulsant and marketed to alleviate some kinds of neuralgia, Neurontin is also being used as a pain management tool where narcotics are restricted or prohibited, and as a mood stabilizer in the treatment of manic-depression. And, what I've been seeing of late, Neurontin is still a major drug of abuse in the prisons, even though it's got a very low abuse potential out here. 

Why is it still being prescribed for everything under the sun in there, then? It's even been pulled from other prison systems because of the dangers of its abuse behind bars. There's also an ugly history of increased suicide risk with Neurontin - something the AZ Department of Corrections should be especially careful about, given that they've doubled in the past 3 years. In fact, all the off-label use of that drug should be questioned.

Since it's pushed as a pain-reliever, some folks may have expectations for the high they should get from it, and when it isn't forthcoming they increase their dosage until they get the desired effect. Neurontin is not the drug to do that with, guys! They're giving it to you precisely because it doesn't work that way - and because I think it's being used to treat some of you for mental illness without your knowledge or consent. 

I also suspect that Neurontin is being increasingly prescribed in prisons to see how it works as a behavior management tool on a broader population, so if you don't need it or know why you're taking it, question your doctor about the need to be taking it at all - and don't waste your money or resources buying this shit on the yard like it's a narcotic or something. All the drugs in there serve primarily to manage you for the state - especially the heroin: it keeps you too high and stupid to organize collectively against the powers that really oppress you. Be a real revolutionary and stay away from that stuff if you want to be free.

Our condolences go out to Christopher's loved ones.