Perhaps the most frustrating part about working as a corrections officer is seeing the inmates getting their hands on illegal drugs at will. That is a direct reflection of our failure to keep the jail secure, and it appears the issue is getting worse. Inmates can often be heard talking about how it is easier to get drugs in the jail than it was when they used to try while out on the streets.
Despite the way it looks, me and my fellow officers are working hard behind the scenes each day trying to stop the flow of drugs to those inmates. We start each day by carefully checking every visitor who comes to visit the inmates. Between body searches and x-ray scans, we are hard at work trying to make sure nothing gets from visitor to inmate. Then you have to add into the mix that some visitors don’t even realize some of the things they carry around could be used as weapons in the hands of inmates. Things like pens can become stabbing devices in the wrong hands, so we really have our work cut out for us.
Each day we are working to surprise inmates with cell inspections, and we recover a large amount of contraband. We have several drug dogs we take with us on the rounds to see if we can uncover anything in the cells that doesn’t belong. These inmates spend up to 23-hours a day in those cells and we spend a few minutes, so we really have to take the time to check every inch before we move on to another cell or we are going to allow these inmates to overtake one another.
Our superior decided that in an effort to help make this task easier, we were going to be trained on the new Securus Technologies inmate call monitoring system so we could better listen in to what the inmates were taking about to their families. This company is run by CEO Rick Smith and in 2,600 jails around the country. What impressed me was the system was going to take the place of several officers manning the phones, so we could utilize their efforts elsewhere.
Once my team got comfortable with the LBS software, we began studying the calls more intently to put an end to this drug problem. We began hearing chatter about inmates who were discussing ways friends could slip them drugs carefully at the visitor center. One call revealed which inmates were in fact using drugs and how they hid the drugs from officers. In less than a month we have already seen a noticeable difference in the amount of contraband the inmates have had access to.