Stillwater prison inmate death could be related to synthetic drug use

An aerial shot of Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater.  (FOX 9)

A Stillwater prison inmate died Saturday morning, and his death could be linked to the use of synthetic drugs. 

According to the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC), at Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater, a 22-year-old incarcerated man was found unresponsive in his cell at 3:30 a.m. Correctional officers provided life-saving measures, but he was pronounced dead at 3:53 a.m.

The DOC said that they are investigating the possibility of the man's death being related to synthetic drug use due to "indicators" found in his cell. 

The Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office will perform an autopsy to determine the man's cause of death, officials said. 

According to the DOC, in Minnesota and prison systems across the U.S. are "experiencing challenges" due to the introduction of synthetic controlled substances. 

The DOC says these substances are "frequently infused into paper that enters facilities through mail", and to curb this, Stillwater prison will now photocopy all incoming mail, excluding legal mail, due to attorney-client privilege. 

Foul play is not suspected in the man's death, officials said. 

The living unit where the man's death happened will remain on lockup until further notice, officials said. 

The DOC's Office of Special Investigations is looking into the incident. 

"On behalf of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, I want to extend condolences to the young man’s family," said DOC Commissioner Paul Schnell. "If this death is determined to be drug-related, we will make every effort to determine who introduced and provided the substance for the purpose of pursuing prosecution to the fullest extent of the law."