Video: Winston County Correctional Facility Works to Keep Contraband Out
WINSTON COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – When inmates get their hands on illegal items behind bars, it can put inmates and officers in dangerous situations. After recent arrests at the facility, prison officials in Winston County are talking about the consequences visitors face when caught with contraband.
Cigarrettes, illegal drugs, and cell phones. Even bibles can be considered contraband to prison officials. At the Winston County – Choctaw County Regional Correctional Facility, the Warden is warning people that smuggling will land you behind bars.
“We search everyone that comes on grounds. If you come through the front door you get searched,” says Neal Higgason, Warden at the Winston County Facility.
Keeping contraband out of Winston County is one of Warden Neal Higgason’s biggest challenges.
“Contraband is actually anything that the prisoners are not supposed to have. It can even actually even be if you have too many items of clothes, or outside clothing. It’s a wide spectrum,” says Higgason.
On average, someone is caught smuggling contraband at least once a month. Correctional officers find everything from cell phones, to Spice and prescription pills.
The Winston County facility houses over 300 county and state inmates. Visitation is allowed every weekend and for some inmates, twice a week. Visitors are allowed to physically mingle with inmates, giving smugglers more opportunity to transfer illegal items.
“When we do catch you, you are going to jail but we try to keep people from bringing things to the prisoners, like the tobacco to keep them from fighting with each other in the back. It makes it hard for the correctional officers to go in and do their jobs when they’re so rowdy and out there,” says Linda Mitchell, a Correctional Officer in Winston County.
Keeping contraband out also helps to keep inmates healthier mentally and physically. Drug testing is periodically administered to inmates .
There’s a random list that’s pulled each month, about ten percent of our inmates and their all tested. If they test positive for drug use, then they are reprimanded. We have different levels of punishment,” says Higgason.
Any visitor caught smuggling contraband could face anywhere from a year in jail and $1,000 fine to several years in prison.
Packages coming to the Winston County – Choctaw County Regional Correctional Facility are also searched and the perimeter of the buildings are inspected each day.