You often hear the word “contraband” used for things found in the jail. But, what exactly is contraband? Legally, it is defined in Oregon Revised Statute 162.135 as:
- controlled substances
- drug paraphernalia
- currency (unless authorized by the facility)
- any item which a person is prohibited by law from obtaining or possessing
- any item that presents a danger to the safety or security of the facility
In the Jackson County Jail, we have two categories of contraband: nuisance and dangerous. The majority (90%) of the contraband we find in the jail is classified as nuisance contraband. This is generally an item we issue to an inmate that the inmate repurposes for an unintended use. This could be something as simple as a milk carton made into a pencil box or possessing an extra plastic spoon or cup. This type of contraband is confiscated.
Dangerous contraband is just what it sounds like: weapons, sharpened spoons, tattoo needles, lighters, tobacco, stabbing devices, illegal drugs, and unauthorized medications. Weapons are an obvious problem as they can be used to effect escapes, harm other inmates or deputies. Fortunately, we do not find weapons very often in our jail. If we find dangerous contraband and can associate it with a specific person, criminal charges will be forwarded to the District Attorney.
The most common contraband items we find are tobacco, marijuana, and other drugs such as meth and heroin. Drugs are common in the jail because they are easy to conceal and transport inside the facility. These contraband items can be used as currency - sold or traded among inmates. Drugs can be a huge safety risk within the jail. Inmate(s) under the influence can experience medical problems or exhibit violent behavior, which requires the deputies to respond to a potentially volatile situation.
Contraband is a problem in every jail in the United States. In the next update, I will talk about some of the ways contraband is introduced and moved about the facility and how we combat the issue in the jail on a daily basis.
Thank you for your support.
Captain Dan Penland