Overdoses on synthetic cannabinoids, sometimes known as K2 or Spice, are the latest deadly epidemic in Florida prisons. The Florida Department of Corrections suspects K2 is behind a dramatic uptick in prison deaths, the Miami Herald reports. Meal times at Tomoka Correctional Institution Work Camp look like a scene straight out of the “Walking Dead,” says a former employee. “Everywhere you turn, inmates are walking around like zombies,” said officer Keith Raimundo, who quit in June amid disagreements with the administration and mounting frustrations with how the facility was run. “Every other inmate coming into the chow hall is high.” Red-eyed inmates shuffle in to get their dinner and sit down to eat, uncoordinated limbs struggling to place food in their mouths. Frequently, he said, someone “falls out,” common vernacular for an overdose. The inmate might faceplant unconscious into his food tray, or slip from his seat, foaming at the mouth, twitching, all of his muscles seizing.
“It is a statewide issue. The number of incidents at Tomoka is not disproportionate with the rest of the state,” said corrections department spokesperson Michelle Glady. The past two years have each been the deadliest in Florida prison history, consecutively. And 2018 figures to be worse yet. Total deaths this year are on track to exceed 500 for the first time, a previously unthinkable threshold. Every year, more younger people are dying. The spike in mortality is paralleled by a dramatic rise in “accidental deaths,” up from 12 in 2016 to 62 in 2017. Those are mostly drug overdoses, according to the department. The top killer, according to an internal audit: synthetic marijuana, more commonly called K2 or Spice. It’s the same drug that just made national headlines when 70 people overdosed in 24 hours in New Haven, Ct.