Dorchester Co. sheriff cracking down on jail contraband

Updated: Jun. 6, 2019 at 1:18 PM EDT
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DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Dorchester County Sheriff is trying to secure funding for a full-body scanner that searches for drugs specifically. This is part of the efforts to crack down on contraband getting into inmate’s hands.

Eight reports filed between 2016-2018 show methamphetamine and tobacco are Dorchester County Jail’s contraband of choice. These reports detail that at least twice meth was brought in inside a person’s body cavity. Other reports show people tried to repeatedly sneak tobacco in through the same methods. In another instance, a card was mailed to an inmate with a substance hidden inside the flap of an envelope.

“We’ve had different things that come in sometimes hidden in body cavities and whatever else,” L.C. Knight, the Dorchester County Sheriff says.

In 2016, Knight says it was realized that the contraband of different sorts was a relatively consistent issue. That was around the same time Dorchester County got a new jail. Knight says he and his team decided it was time to change the way visitor’s spent time with their detained loved one. The previous jail didn’t have full-contact visitation, but Knight says it was close.

The new visitation methods were changed to video visitation in the new jail building. The visitor sits in a room with a small video screen in front of them while the inmate stays inside their cell. There is no way for anything to be passed between the visitor and inmate this way.

In 2019 the jail introduced internet visitation that is similar to a Skype call. The person wanting to speak with the person detained can visit with them from wherever they want with this policy.

Knight says those new policies have almost completely solved the problem, but the contraband crackdown isn’t stopping there.

“It’s a full-time job monitoring what’s coming and going in a detention facility,” Knight says.

Knight says his next goal is to secure funding for a head to toe scanner that specifically searches for substances hidden inside any part of the body. The machine is made to detect drugs that wouldn’t be caught by a metal detector.

“(It) can do a scan and check for drugs,” Knight says. “It’s over $200,000 dollars, there’s no way I can afford that now.”

The Sheriff says until that money is available, his staff will continue working diligently to keep illegal objects out of the cells of the Dorchester County Detention Center.

“The better the job they do the safer they are. If you have someone high on something and they get hard to handle you don’t want to hurt them, but we can’t have our men hurt either.”

Sheriff Knight says he’s proud of his team and the efforts they’ve made to almost completely eliminate the contraband problem but is looking forward to going months or even years without a filed contraband report.

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