Contraband not welcome at jail
by Paisley Boston
Jan 24, 2014 | 3506 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sheriff Kelvin Williams and Warden Ora Starks are cracking down on contraband.

In the last two months, Bolivar County Supervisor Preston Billings has questioned Starks about possible solutions for controlling contraband within the Bolivar County Regional Correctional Facility.

"I am always concerned about the inmates and their well being. I just want to know what is being done about contraband? I have been hearing so much negative feedback from citizens concerning this issue," said Billings.

In a previous interview, Williams said he's not sure how banned items make their way into the facility but possibilities include visitations, offender work details and staff.

"We're not the only facility in Mississippi having this problem, but it's detrimental and it won't be tolerated," said Williams.

Contraband has become a major concern for correctional facilities throughout the state.

According to Starks, the Bolivar County Regional Correctional Facility is taking a proactive approach to controlling contraband from entering the facility.

"We are continuing to conduct searches on offenders, their housing units, the kitchen, laundry, and maintenance areas, and all other areas throughout the entire facility," said Starks.

"Staff and visitors are also thoroughly searched upon entering the facility," she added.

In addition to the above mentioned strategies, Starks said the facility is also in the process of implementing the use of the security tower, which is located in front of the facility.

"This will help us monitor traffic entering and exiting the facility and also provide visualization of anyone attempting to throw contraband items over the fence area. In addition to the cameras that are in place, we are installing additional cameras throughout the facility," continued Starks.

Williams added that since he has taken office, he has been proactive in preventing contraband in the facility.

However, somehow contraband continues to be found on a regular basis.

“I find this to be disturbing with all the preventive measures we have taken, we still find major contraband items," said Williams.

"No matter what it takes, we will continue to utilize these measures and also determine how the contraband is entering the facility. Those who are responsible for contraband entering the facility, will be prosecuted t to the fullest," he added.

In Mississippi, bringing contraband into a state correctional facility is considered a felony and can carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

The most common contraband items found in correctional facilities include cell phones, drugs and weapons.

During a previous search, Williams said he found nine cell phones, small amounts of tobacco and marijuana, tattoo paraphernalia, pornography and other nuisance contraband.

"We will continue to do whatever it takes to control contraband trafficking," said Williams

"Our goal is to ensure the safety of the correctional staff and offenders and to also continue to work hard to control contraband and to provide public safety," he added.