Suboxone, generically known as buprenorphine and naloxone, is commonly prescribed to treat opioid addiction. Unfortunately, prison-based opioid addiction treatment often doesn't provide the drug or the relief it offers to suffering addicts. It seems, however, that several people at the Rockview State Correctional Institution may have tried to make it available to the inmate population.
Suboxone is a controlled substance and should not be used by people who are not addicted to prescription opioids or related drugs. However, it seems more tragic than criminal that a prison visitor allegedly attempted to smuggle it into Rockview by hiding it in a sandwich.
According to court documents obtained by the Centre Daily Times, corrections officers found a balloon apparently containing 47 Suboxone strips inside a sandwich being delivered to an inmate by a 25-year-old Lock Haven woman. The balloon was meant to be swallowed as a method of bringing the drug into the facility. Before the inmate swallowed the balloon, the officers discovered it and called state troopers.
The Lock Haven woman allegedly admitted that she and the inmate she was visiting were "middle men" between an outside party and another inmate. Her phone appeared to contain communication between the Lock Haven woman and another woman involving plans to smuggle the drug into the prison.
The inmate she visited allegedly told the troopers that a second inmate had propositioned him about the smuggling. The plan was indeed for him to swallow the balloon in order to smuggle the Suboxone into the facility. It was then to be sold to other inmates. There also seems to be evidence that the two inmates discussed how to get the money back to the Lock Haven woman and her contacts outside.
The Lock Haven woman, the two inmates and a fourth individual have now been charged with conspiracy to bring drugs into the facility.
The two inmates have been charged with two felonies: conspiracy to possess and conspiracy to deliver contraband. They are scheduled for preliminary hearings on April 18.
The Lock Haven woman also faces felony counts of conspiracy, possession of contraband and possession with intent to deliver, along with misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. It is not entirely clear what the paraphernalia was, if not the balloon itself. Unsecured bail was set at $500,000.
In this case, the alleged conspirators may have meant to bring in Suboxone as a recreational drug, purely to make a profit. However, it is also possible that the most avid buyers would be those suffering from the abject misery of untreated opioid addiction. Ultimately, however, their motives don't make much difference to the justice system.