Prisoners riot over cell phones - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Prisoners riot over cell phones

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Sabrina Lewis, Dougherty County Jail Security Director and Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul Sabrina Lewis, Dougherty County Jail Security Director and Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul
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A riot at Telfair State Prison is under investigation after inmates started fighting each other for illegal cell phones. Inmates remain on lockdown at two of the Telfair State Prison dorms where the riot occurred.

Three inmates were injured, two remain hospitalized, and one staff member was hurt. The Department of Corrections Commissioner says it brings to light the serious dangers of cell phones in the prison system.

They say every day, it's a battle to keep cell phones, and other contraband, out of prisoner's hands.

Cell phones aren't just a problem for the state prison system, local county jails also struggle to keep these phone out of the hands of inmates, but there are a lot of friends and relatives that will go to extreme lengths to smuggle them in.

Contraband including cell phones is a problem not only for state prisons but also local jails.

 "The Dougherty County Jail in fact had a shake down Tuesday, looking for contraband and to the security director's delight very little was found," said Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul.

At the Dougherty County Jail, 30 percent of the inmate population is searched every day.

"We search 10 cells per pod everyday, so in any given day we search about 278 inmates out of our 800 plus population and that's done on two shifts," said Major Sabrina Lewis, Dougherty County Jail Security Director.

Not to mention they sweep the entire grounds daily watching for contraband that includes everything from guns, to alcohol, to drugs, or a cellphone, that might be left for an inmate to pick up. 

"In our old facility downtown at the courthouse we had to worry more than we do here, there's not a lot of contact here with inmates and the outside world," said the sheriff.

Those who do have contact, through work details are brought in and out through a special section and are searched every time they come back in the facility.

 "We have at least eight officers down in this area and those eight officers will be strip searching inmates, one by one. You have two officers to each one of the shower areas," said Lewis.

Measures like this visitation booth, where inmates have no contact with their visitors are just one additional step to keep the contraband out, and ultimately keep the prison population, guards and the community safe.

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