MEDFORD, Ore. — Bringing in contraband is an issue jails and prisons are battling across the country.
“Addiction is a strong thing and people are genuinely scared they’re not going to have their drug of choice,” said Jackson County Jail Commander, Lt. Josh Aldrich.
From methamphetamine to heroin, inmates are continuing to find new and creative ways to sneak contraband into jails across the country.
It’s no different at the Jackson County Jail.
“A lot of people unfortunately walking around the community that get arrested that are bringing things like in different orifices in their body and everything from the mouth to wherever you can imagine,” said Lt. Aldrich.
In the past year, he says the sheriff’s office has filed close to 50 criminal reports for drugs brought into the jail.
But he says that number only scratches the surface.
“Many, many, many more,” said Lt. Aldrich. “Honestly, I feel like for everyone we file there’s probably ten that we don’t have the proof or we refer that out to someone else.”
Because of an addict’s fear of going through withdrawals, Lt. Aldrich says inmates often go to great lengths to feed their addiction.
“People try to manipulate you to do things for them,” he said. “You have people who try to do that quite often.”
The record backs that up.
In 2013, Camilla Lynn Pierce, a nurse with ConMed, was found guilty of supplying heroin inside the jail to an inmate.
Two years later, another jail employee, Buddy Gene Arnett, was accused of trading contraband for sex acts with inmates.
Today, the jail has a K-9 that specifically searches for drugs.
It also has a new body scanner that’s been up and running since August.
“It’s this big apparatus that’s basically doing an x-ray on folks and seeing if they have anything inside them,” said Lt. Aldrich.
But that doesn’t mean the problem is going away anytime soon.
“I don’t know if it’s something we can ever completely fix right, there’s just too many ways to be sneaky,” he said. “We do our best to try to catch what we can and keep that away from the folks here.”
Aside from the obvious fact drug contraband is illegal, Lt. Aldrich says it presents a major safety risk.
Drugs can lead to sickness, overdose, and violent fights between inmates or against employees.
Amanda Rose is a multimedia journalist for NBC5 News. Amanda graduated from Columbia University earning a Master’s degree in Journalism. She also received a Bachelor’s degree in English with a specialization in literature from the University of British Columbia.
She’s a Los Angeles native, but is thrilled to return to the beautiful Pacific Northwest and is passionate about reporting on the criminal justice system.