JOHNSTOWN - The health needs of inmates at the Fulton County Jail are growing because more them are taking dangerous synthetic stimulants known as "bath salts" before they end up at the jail, Sheriff's Department officials say.
Capt. Randy Benedict, jail administrator, this week told county legislators there has been an increase in inmates who have used those drugs and synthetic marijuana.
"Their health hasn't been so good," Benedict said. "It really creates a lot of health issues as far as blood pressure, heart rate and body temperatures."
Fulton County Undersheriff Kevin Lenahan talks to the Fulton?County Board of Supervisors’ Finance Committee on Thursday.
The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich
Bath salts have been linked to crimes and dangerous behavior nationally and in the area, including a suspicious death June 4 in Mayfield, Sheriff Thomas Lorey has said.
Brent S. Alling Sr., 42, of 127 Delaney Road, and his deceased wife - 54-year-old Kathryn Jackson Alling - had taken bath salts, authorities said. Her naked, bruised body was found on Tyrrell Road and authorities are awaiting final autopsy and toxicology results. No one has been charged in her death.
Benedict also said some inmates coming to the jail are violent.
The discussion about the deteriorating health conditions of inmates was prompted Thursday when Undersheriff Kevin Lenahan asked the Board of Supervisors' Finance Committee to fill a vacant registered nurse position at the jail.
Lenahan said the vacancy will be due to a nurse who is retiring Aug. 1. He said the position - required by the state Commission of Correction - is "vital" to operation of the Route 29 jail.
The committee approved filling the position.
Lenahan said the Sheriff's Department currently has a per-diem employee who may be able to fill the position after giving proper notice to her other employer. He requested the position be filled as soon as possible after the August retirement of the current nurse.
The committee also granted permission for the undersheriff to fill an investigator position with a deputy. Lenahan said an investigator is out of work on disability and will be for "an extended period of time." Supervisors also gave permission for the deputy position to be filled by a part-time employee.
Lenahan said burglaries are increasing in the county. He said his department has "well over" 65 burglary investigations at this point of the year. That figure usually is in the 30s at this time of year, he said.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at email@example.com