Keeping inmates and jail staff safe is of the utmost importance. In this month’s update, I want to talk about ways contraband is introduced into the jail, and the steps we take to prevent and detect contraband. Most of the contraband we deal with is tobacco or drugs, but it can also include weapons and other dangerous items.
How is contraband introduced?
Many times contraband is already hidden somewhere on or in the body of a person being arrested. We have seen inmates with contraband hidden under dentures, in artificial limbs, and behind a glass eye. Contraband can be hidden in the folds of the skin if the person is overweight.
Contraband may also be inserted into body orifices. Many of you are probably thinking, “People don’t really put things there, do they?” Well, think again – it is a popular hiding place. Socks, bras, and watch pockets in jeans are common hiding places as well.
How do we combat contraband entering the facility?
Stopping contraband starts as soon as the arrestee enters the jail. We do a thorough pat search of each inmate coming into the facility. A deputy pats the subject’s body over his or her clothing to detect contraband. This includes emptying all pockets, removing belts, and checking the shoes and socks.
After the pat search, inmates who are not released right away are subjected to an unclothed/visual body-cavity search or “strip search.” The deputy then does a complete visual inspection of the person. This is one of the least desirable – but necessary – job duties of a corrections deputy.
Once lodged into jail, inmates are subject to random pat and unclothed searches at any time. The same goes for the property they keep in their cells. The only restriction is that searches cannot be done for the purpose of punishing or harassing the inmate.
Each day a different part of the facility is searched. We target areas to search on a random basis. We will target a specific area if we receive information that drugs or other contraband are present.
Deputies conduct a complete facility search several times per year. This involves searching the entire jail facility in a methodical fashion. In a recent complete facility search, we found mostly nuisance contraband.
Doing a complete facility search takes a lot of resources. The last search involved 24 deputies and was a coordinated effort between the Corrections and Patrol Divisions of the Sheriff’s Office and a drug dog from Community Justice. Clearly, the detection and elimination of contraband is an important safety issue that we take very seriously.
Thank you for your support.
Captain Dan Penland