How a local jail is shutting down dangerous contraband

By: Blair Miller

Updated:

Behind prison walls, it's what you don't see that's causing concern.

Weapons: sharp, bizarre, and dangerous, have been confiscated by the score inside local jails. One local sheriff is making a change to keep out those hidden dangers.

Boston 25 News Anchor Blair Miller went inside the jail in Bristol County Detention Center to see the unbelievable ways prisoners are trying to get these things in and how they're now being stopped.

Sheriff Thomas Hodgson and his staff showed Boston 25 News the things people have tried smuggling into his jail.

BOLD WAYS OF HIDING CONTRABAND

It’s often drugs.

Prisoners have hidden drugs inside everything from baby's diapers, to their own bodies.

“We had some that would even find a way to hide it in the back of their mouths, under their tongue and even though sometimes they would get it by inspection of their officers, they'd go in and kiss the person and pass it off that way,” Sheriff Hodgson told Boston 25 News.
 
Some prisoners even try smuggling things in using mail. Guards confiscated a letter that someone wrote to an inmate.  They taped a powdered drug inside the letter, so once it reached the inmate, he could peel it back and ingest the drug.

“They're actually putting stuff on the card itself, either covering it with the paper or gluing it so you can't really tell that I'm writing over it... as though they were continuing the message.  Without putting it up to the light, you wouldn't find it,” Sheriff Hodgson said.

Some of the inmates themselves try to hide away valuables before they get sentenced to jail. 

“They may go to court and know they're probably going to get sentenced and will find ways to, you know, get it in their body cavities and bring it in that way,” said Sheriff Hodgson.

Huge X-ray machines catch it all as inmates enter the jail from court. It scans their bodies, finding things that have been either swallowed or hidden inside.

We saw images of rubber gloves filled with tobacco, a pack of cigarettes, even a piece of an electronic razor that the inmate was hoping to later use for a tattoo gun.

“We actually had an individual who had this cell phone that he had inserted in his body to bring in,” superintendent Steve Souza told Boston 25 News.

“THEY HAVE ALL DAY LONG TO THINK”

“They know the system inside and out.  They have all day long to think about ‘OK, how can I beat the system today?’” said Sheriff Hodgson.
 
That has usually meant inmates getting help from family or friends when they come to visit.  When Sheriff Hodgson took over 20 years ago, inmates and visitors were separated by glass and wood.

“There's a wooden frame around the windows.  They'll try to slide it in between the countertop and the wooden frame,” said Souza.

VISITATIONS GO HIGH-TECH

To get around that, the jail is now doing away with face-to-face visits. Visitors will now come to see inmates video-to-video, like FaceTiming.

“It will dramatically help us eliminate the ability for people to try to bring anything in and still work it into our partitions and so forth,” said Sheriff Hodgson.

The Bristol County Detention Center is the first in the state to have these video-only visits, and one of the few in the country to do it.

“We're constantly on the lookout, trying to pay attention,” said Sheriff Hodgson. 

The new video to video conferencing won't cost the jail anything.

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