County jail goes digital after inmates receive drug-soaked paper in mail

Published: Feb. 14, 2020 at 4:00 PM CST
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The Shawnee County Department of Corrections is putting a stop to inmates receiving drug-soaked paper through the mail.

For years, illegal contraband has been stripped from inmates at the Shawnee County Department of Corrections.

The latest issue though, comes as illegal drugs have made their way into the jail through paper mail.

"We're seeing anything from heroine, K2, any type of synthetic drug, opioids, fentanyl, all those kind of things that are being liquefied and they're soaking paper in it, then they mail it in," said Corrections Department Director Brian Cole.

He said the drug-soaked mail is hard to spot because it's odorless, giving the inmates easy access to use.

"What we have found is that inmates are taking it and they're taking bits and pieces of it and then they're chewing on it or they're ingesting it," said Cole.

To put a stop to it, the Corrections Department will now use a digital mail service through Securus Technologies.

Cole said, "They will open the mail, they will scan it and then it will be sent to us in a file folder. Then we will put it on the tablets or the kiosks for inmates to access and read their mail."

He said the cost of the service will not be an issue.

"The increase in sales we've seen from the tablets, because they're very popular with the inmates, will cover the expense," Cole said, "So I think it's important for the taxpayers to know that this is not a budgeted item or anything that the taxpayers will be funding. The inmates are funding this themselves."

With safety and security a top priority, he said this is desperately needed in the County.

"This is nothing new to corrections, and Shawnee County by all rights is far behind a lot of other institutions," Cole said, "So we have to stay up with the technology and the ingenuity that we're finding."

The service is $4 per inmate, per month based on the jail's average daily population. Cole said in total, that will cost about $2,200 a month.

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