Metro Corrections officials still trying to figure out how drugs - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Metro Corrections officials still trying to figure out how drugs are getting into the jail

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Louisville Metro Corrections leaders offered a tour of the jail Wednesday in the midst of concerns over contraband getting into the jail and overcrowding.

At least 13 inmates have overdosed inside the jail in the past month. Earlier this week, 98 needles were found on an inmate inside the jail.

“Yesterday, there was an overdose,” said Steve Durham, assistant director of Metro Corrections. “Two days ago, there was an overdose. Last week, there was an overdose. These things are happening in housing units, and some of them are happening on the booking floor.”

Leaders explained how inmates are searched before they are booked into the jail. First, a suspect is searched in the field by an officer. Then, once the suspect is dropped off at Metro Corrections, that person will go through a pat-down search.

“We’re going to be squeezing body parts,” Durham said. “We’re going to be moving clothing around, checking waistbands, take your shoes off. We’re checking your socks, your pockets, empty your pockets.”

That is when officers will take that person’s possessions. Then every inmate goes through the body scanner. This gives a low-grade X-ray image of the person.

“You’ll see whether or not that person has put something in a body cavity, which you can’t feel through a pat-down search,” Durham said.

Finally, some inmates will also be strip-searched if the scanner shows there is an item on a person’s body. In a strip search, the inmate removes his or her clothes and is observed by officers. Officers never remove clothes or touch an inmate in this process, Durham said.

“We found a Motorola flip phone inside a body cavity,” Durham said. “We’ve found seven fully-loaded syringes. We find lighters and money and all sorts of things. Bags of dope that are put into body cavities.”

“We’re hearing a lot about drugs in jail,” said Metro Corrections director Mark Bolton. “There are drugs in this jail, absolutely, positively.”

Bolton admits drugs are getting into the jail, which he said is a problem in all jails.

“It’s a challenge in this industry,” Bolton said. “We’re working on some things that we’re not going to talk about, to put some additional innovation in here. We’re going to develop some additional protocols in the upcoming weeks.”

Jail leaders are working to determine how the contraband slips past the security measures.

“Some people are getting arrested on purpose,” Durham said. “Stuffing bags of drugs inside them, in hopes they can get through this screening and get it sold inside. That’s a reality.”

Metro Corrections staff, volunteers and program teachers are not searched on the level inmates are. There are random searches, and everyone must put bags through a metal detector. But only inmates are required to go through the body scanner.

“That’s a lot of people,” Durham said. “And we’re going to look and see if we need to make changes to how we do that. But that’s a lot of people to go through on a daily basis.”

Jail leaders point to overcrowding as one of the main reasons for many of its problems. On Wednesday, 2,274 inmates were in custody. Of those, 386 were state inmates. The jail has about 1,800 beds to accommodate everyone between three facilities downtown.

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