County jail seeing rise in overdoses; mother shares story of daughter’s fatal overdose

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A mother was forced to relive moments of grief after four Sedgwick County inmates overdosed on Tuesday. Destiny Clayton’s daughter died of an overdose at the jail in May 2023, nearly one month before her release date.

Courtesy: Destiny Clayton
Courtesy: Destiny Clayton

The Sedgwick County Jail had 20 overdoses in all of 2023. They’ve already had 12 suspected overdoses this year.

Clayton said her daughter was recovering and looking forward to her upcoming release date before she died.

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Recent overdoses are a reminder of who Clayton lost. Her daughter overdosed last May, about a month before her release date.

“She was my daughter. She wasn’t just a person receiving mental health treatment, just an addict. She was my child, she was so full of life, she was only 21,” said Clayton.

Courtesy: Destiny Clayton
Courtesy: Destiny Clayton

She said the nearly two years her daughter spent in the Sedgwick County Jail got her daughter clean, it was all lost in an instant.

“I have been in touch with a few people that were in the same pod as my child when it happened, and they say it’s very frequent,” said Clayton.

Colonel Jared Schechter of the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office said increased drug traffic had reached the jail.

“As fentanyl has grown in the community, as opioids have grown in the community, we’re seeing more of it in the jail,” said Schechter.

He said there are two common ways drugs get into the hands of inmates.

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“The people coming in off of the streets, it’s on their person when they’re getting arrested; it either gets missed in the search process, or they’ve concealed it or swallowed it. There are other ways it can be smuggled into the jail,” said Schechter.

The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office is increasing efforts to keep out drugs.

“The last month, we’ve been making a refocus on working on our searches better, and different expectations we’ve placed on our supervisors in those areas,” said Schechter.

Work Clayton wishes would have been started sooner.

“She had made a lot of plans with me; she has a son that’s five; she wanted to make things right and be a part of his life; she wanted to go back to school. I know she didn’t want to die,” Clayton said.

Courtesy: Destiny Clayton
Courtesy: Destiny Clayton

The Sedgwick County Jail is still short-staffed, but Colonel Schechter said it is graduating deputies, at a rate to meet the needs.

He said a project to add 800 cameras to the facility within the next two years will help monitor drug use.

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