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|CPSO targets smuggling of contraband|
It was probably one of the easiest arrests Sheriff Kenneth Hedrick has ever had to make.
While taking care of business recently in the shop in back of the Concordia Parish Courthouse, Hedrick noticed someone throwing items over the jail to an inmate.
"He was throwing cigarettes," Hedrick said. "I happened to step outside the workshop and saw it going on. We charged him right there."
Last month there were 17 arrests for introduction of contraband into a penal institution, covering the parish jail, Concordia Parish Work Release and the Concordia Parish Correction Facility on Hwy. 15.
Last year there were 68.
"We've really started cracking down on that," Hedrick said. "That's something we will not tolerate. Some do get away with it. But we do everything we can to keep it from happening."
Chief Deputy David Hedrick said most arrests are made after inmates received a cell phone or drugs from the outside.
"We've had contraband smuggled in from work crews and people throwing things over the fence in a tennis ball," Hedrick said. "And it's mainly things they are not supposed to have in their bed area."
Sheriff Hedrick said work crew inmates are searched when they arrive back at the facilities.
David Hedrick said family members are the most common violators.
"They think of ways to get things to them, he said. "We had an inmate receive an unbendable wire that has been broken to use as a weapon,"
Hedrick said CPSO does not catch every small contraband transaction.
"But we do have a zero tolerance when we do catch them," he said
David Hedrick said inmates find a way of using the smuggled contraband.
"There are hidden spots in prison, although our prison is more open," he said. "Sometimes they will have people standing around them to hide their contraband."
So why risk being caught?
"Most of these people are in for 10 or so years so it doesn't mean anything to them to get caught," he said.
Warden Lance Moore said his officers have confiscated cell phones, drugs and shanks, such as toothbrushes or items that can be shaved down and used as weapons.
"Some are tying to protect their territory," Moore said. "Rules of the prison are to look for ways to protect yourself."
As for the cell phones, Moore said phone calls made from the prison are recorded.
"In some cases with the cell phone it may be an inmate setting up a hit on another inmate," he said.
Moore said the contraband comes into the facility in several different ways.
"You can stop one way, and they will find another way," he said.
Moore said most of the contraband is brought in by family members during visits.
"They may wear a size 7 shoe, but they will wear a size 11 during the visit and with contraband in the shoe. While they are talking they will take off their shoes under the desk and swap shoes with the inmate," he said.
Moore said recently surveillance cameras showed a man near the Concordia Parish Community Center with a package.
"We went over there to see what it was and he took off running," Moore said. "He was getting ready to throw a package over the fence containing drugs and phones."
Moore said his prison has a shakedown crew that does unexpected shakedowns, checking areas for contraband.
"We have shakedowns as much as possible," he said. "We have a shift that has random shakedowns every day."
He said inmates "will try and put some stuff in toilets and trash cans, places they don't think we will check. And there are some strange ways people try to smuggle it in. They use every part of the body."
The average punishment for introducing contraband into a penal institute is one to three years, depending on the criminal record of the culprit.
The sentence is concurrent, meaning it is added on to their current sentence. There usually is not a fine.
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