Gangs and contraband major security issues in Georgia jails - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Gangs and contraband major security issues in Georgia jails

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -  Atlanta corrections agencies meet to crack down on jail gangs and contraband being smuggled inside.

South Georgia jail officials say they have also seen an increase in gang activity behind bars, and welcome new ideas how to deal with it.  

Dougherty County Jail officials say they have been dealing with gangs in their lock up for more than a quarter century,but say the gangs are becoming more sophisticated.  Dougherty County jail officials say prison gang members spread new ideas to the gang members in their jail, and others around the state.

 Dougherty County Jail Director Colonel John Ostrander said "The strategies that the gangs use may change and become more sophisticated.  So our efforts also have to change and become more sophisticated, to keep up with what's going on."

Jail officials say they have members of every gang on the streets behind their bars.  They call identifying them and their affiliation an art form.  Jail officials try to separate and isolate the leaders, monitor their communication, and prosecute them for any offense to control them.

Officials say gangs' sophistication smuggling contraband into jails, from drugs, to cell phones, to weapons, is a major security risk.

Ostrander said "We do strip searches before they go to housing.  but in some cases contraband is hidden in such a way that would require an x-ray to find it.  So even a strip search is not a fool proof way to prevent contraband."

South Georgia officials say they welcome the Atlanta initiative, and will check their results.

Ostrander said "But if there are new strategies that they develop, we're on board.  We'll try anything to see if it can make out staff safer and this facility more secure."

Dougherty County's jail has an inmate population of close to 800 people today.  Officials say they do searches of the inmates and the facility nearly every day, to cut down on contraband and gangs.

Ostrander said they are in the process of upgrading their surveillance camera system inside and outside the jail....which will greatly enhance security.

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