Inmates still get contraband - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Inmates still get contraband

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - South Georgians are finding creative ways to help prison inmates sneak forbidden items behind bars. Investigators are trying to track down people who have hidden items for inmates to pick up on work details.

Prosecutors warn they will go after anyone who gives prisoners things like cell phones or drugs. Friends or family members find out where a prisoner will be on a work detail, and they hide contraband for them to take back into the prison. One Prosecutor says it's got to stop.

District Attorney Greg Edwards says Lee State Prison and other South Georgia facilities have spotted people hiding the contraband for inmate work details. 

"This phenomenon is something that is pretty rampant in the prison system," Edwards said.

Edwards says Investigators believe people are hiding items for inmates outside the prison on work details.  "They make arrangements to drop a phone or drop drugs at a location where the inmate might be working."

Edwards has been designated to prosecute the people being investigated if they are charged. He says those phones are often being used to threaten people.  "Those phones are used to engage in communications that are beyond the control of prison officials. And it is a very serious problem. Because telephones can be used to intimidate witnesses and otherwise obstruct justice."

Prisoners are searched before they re-enter the prison following a work detail, but it still does not seem to be enough sometimes. Prosecutors are working with prison officials to stop this source of contraband going behind prison walls. 

"We are looking both inside and outside to make sure there is no inside help within the prisons themselves. But we are definitely going to deal with any outside help. And anyone that's found to be involved with this type of activity is going to be prosecuted."

And furnishing prohibited items to inmates is a felony, which could get the person five years behind bars themselves.

District Attorney Greg Edwards knows personally that inmates have access to cell phones behind those barbed wire fences. He says a prison inmate recently used an illegal cell phone to call him at the District Attorney's Office.

The D. A. says they have suspects in one incident, but no one has been charged yet. Edwards says both the inmate and his friends could be prosecuted.

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