N.C. Department of Correction--Correction News--June 1998

Coming soon to a prison near you

Searches will help keep drugs out of prison

CLINTON — With his nose ready, Arras, the department’s drug detection canine, waited patiently the afternoon of May 20 for second-shift employees to arrive for work at Sampson Correctional Institution. As the employees started rolling in, they were greeted by departmental and local law enforcement officers and sent down to where Arras was waiting with his sniffer in high gear.

While officers checked the employees’ personal belongings for drugs, alcohol and firearms, Arras put his nose to work inspecting their vehicles inside and out.

The surprise search was part of a new canine interdiction program initiated by the department in a stepped up effort to control illegal drug use by inmates housed in our prisons.

Sampson Correctional Institution was the first prison to experience the canine interdiction program, firsthand, but Charles Stewart, chief of security for the department, said it will not be the last.

"We hope to do these searches several times a month," he said. "Eventually we will do searches at all of our facilities."

Stewart said the department decided to start with Sampson because it wanted to test the program out on a medium-sized, medium security prison first to work out any problems before tackling the larger facilities.

"Sampson was actually supposed to be second, but our first one got rained out," he said.

Second-shift employees were searched as they arrived on the prison property and first-shift employees were searched on their way out. The local police and sheriff’s departments and the highway patrol assisted the department in carrying out the search.

Sampson Superintendent Steve Muller said, in all, 78 employees were searched during the interdiction, resulting in one citation for marijuana residue in a vehicle and one arrest for possession of marijuana and resisting arrest.

In addition to the legal consequences, Muller said the employees caught in possession of prohibited substances during the search will also be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with personnel policy.

In a memo to all employees explaining the new canine interdiction program, Secretary Mack Jarvis said the possession by prison inmates of illegal drugs or weapons poses specific hazards to the safety of departmental employees who enter prison facilities, as well as to prison visitors, the general public and other inmates.

"This new program has been created to help eliminate illegal drug use by inmates and will thereby enhance the security of all who enter our prison facilities," he said. "I ask you to join with me in working to make this program a success."

Stewart said after a few more canine interdictions have been conducted on the staff to iron out the bugs, the department will start searching visitors as they enter onto prison property. u

NC DOC Correction News- June 1998
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