Florida death row inmate and accomplished poet Stephen Todd Booker, 69, was awaiting execution for a 1977 murder when he unexpectedly died ahead of schedule. According to an autopsy report, Booker overdosed on fentanyl. He was found slumped over in his prison cell during a routine security check. Where Booker got the fentanyl is unknown. Well, someone knows, but they sure ain't saying. From the Tampa Bay Times:
[Dr. Thomas M. Coyne, who performed the autopsy,] said there was no evidence that paramedics had treated Booker with fentanyl, and he noted that the toxicology report showed in Booker's urine the presence of a substance that is used to produce illicit fentanyl.
There is also no record or indication that Booker had been prescribed fentanyl, Coyne said[…]
Death row is subject to tighter security than other parts of the prison system. Inmates there are counted at least once an hour and are escorted in handcuffs and wear them everywhere except in their cells, the exercise yard and the shower, according to the corrections department's website. They are in their cells at all times except for medical reasons, exercise, social or legal visits or media interviews[…]
While in prison, Booker became an accomplished poet, writing about incarceration, racism and growing up in Brooklyn, among other themes. His work has appeared in top-level literary publications like The Kenyon Review, Seneca Review and Field, and has been championed by poets like Denise Levertov and Hayden Carruth, according to a 2004 New York Times story.