The Curry County Adult Detention Center has seen a spike in contraband discoveries the past two months, timed with the launch of inmate work details at the facility.
During July and August, detention officers patrolling the outside and public areas of the jail have found and turned over about a dozen contraband items to the Curry County Sheriff’s Office.
There were no contraband reports in the months of May and June, according to Undersheriff Wesley Waller.
Administrator Keith Norwood said contraband is just one of those things that goes with the territory.
“People are going to try to smuggle things in — that’s why we do perimeter checks and cell checks,” he said. “It’s nothing new.”
He commended detention officers for their discoveries that kept the items from getting to inmates, noting that in the recent cases the contraband “was found outside the jail, not inside.”
The majority of discoveries were made around the exterior of the building, tucked behind trash cans and otherwise hidden, with a few items discovered in the public bathroom and lobby area of the jail.
Since taking command of the jail, Norwood has launched several programs at the facility, including using inmate labor both inside the jail — to clean, paint and replace floor tiles — and on other county properties and projects from the courthouse next door to road work and even cleaning up a cemetery in Melrose.
Unfortunately, inmates do sometimes see those work details as an avenue, he said.
“I think they try to use it as more of an opportunity to introduce (contraband into the jail),” he said.
Waller said his office is investigating the incidents but no arrests have been made.
He declined to say if there are any suspects.
Investigators believe, “This trend could be attributed to attempts by individuals to leave these items for inmates who are assigned to work details,” he said.
Waller said the majority of the contraband has been marijuana.