Inmate Renee Lowrance, 44, Died From Suspected Fentanyl Overdose In Custody At The El Paso County Jail
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO (September 27, 2023) - An inmate identified as Renee Lowrance has tragically died while in custody at the El Paso County Jail.
El Paso County Jail officials are saying that the incident took place around 5:00 p.m. on Friday. A deputy found Renee Lowrance unresponsive in her cell.
Life-saving measures were taken in order to help the woman. Those efforts were taken over by the American Medical Response (AMR) and the Colorado Springs Fire Department (CSFD).
Sadly, Renee Lowrance was later pronounced dead. Her death is believed to be the result of fentanyl intoxication. A 27-year-old woman has been charged in connection with the death.
A full investigation remains ongoing at this time.
Liability For El Paso County Jail Inmate Deaths
Drug overdoses remain one of the leading causes of in custody deaths across the United States. According to National Public Radio, “From 2001 to 2018, the number of people who have died of drug or alcohol intoxication in state prisons rose more than 600%, according to an analysis of newly-released data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. In county jails, overdose deaths increased by more than 200%.” Fentanyl can be particularly dangerous and is responsible for a disproportionate number of inmate deaths. There are a number of signs that jail officials should look for that could indicate an opioid overdose.
- Small, constricted pupils
- Discolored skin
- Slow, weak or shallow breathing
- Losing consciousness
- Limp body
All jails have a legal obligation to provide inmates with adequate care for their medical needs. Failing to give inmates adequate healthcare is a violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Care must also be given in the event an inmate takes a deliberate course of action resulting in a drug overdose. There are policies and steps that correctional officers must follow if they suspect an inmate may be overdosing. For example, a combination of Narcan and CPR can help many inmates survive what might otherwise be a lethal overdose.
Consider, for example, the tragic death of Amy Lynn Cross. She was booked into a Weld County jail when her condition began to deteriorate. She exhibited signs of a drug overdose, but was not given any medical care for 7 hours even as her fingers turned blue due to a lack of oxygen. Jail officials said that they believed she was faking her symptoms. She later died due to methamphetamine toxicity. Her family is pursuing a civil claim against the county. There are several steps that should be taken after any in-custody death.
- Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
- Medical records should be preserved.
- An independent autopsy may need to be performed.
- Surveillance footage should be sought.
- An experienced civil rights attorney should be contacted.
Losing someone while they are incarcerated can be particularly painful and traumatic. This grief is often compounded by the fact that jails are rarely transparent about the causes of in-custody deaths. A large number of jail deaths that take place each year are preventable and due to medical neglect. The family of any person that died in-custody may be able to seek some measure of justice and accountability through a constitutional claim.
Investigating El Paso County Jail Inmate Deaths
We at Scott H. Palmer, P.C. extend our deepest condolences to the family of Renee Lowrance. Any person that may have more information about what happened should reach out to investigators. This death was the result of so many different failures. It is our sincere hope that measures are put in place to prevent other tragedies like this.
Do you need more information about an El Paso County Jail inmate death? Our team of civil rights advocates are here to help in any way that we can. We care deeply that inmates and their families are aware of their rights and that those rights are being protected. Whether you just have legal questions or need a free, independent investigation into any incident we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at 214-987-4100.