Limestone County jail investigating contraband smuggling
By Roxanne Thompson Staff Writer
All Limestone County jail inmates, including trustees, are being kept strictly within the jail facility while Sheriff Dennis Wilson conducts an investigation into a problem with contraband that surfaced three weeks ago.
The situation was revealed at the commissioners court’s meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 8, when two department heads said their respective facilities were woefully in need of yard work, something the county depends heavily on inmates to do.
“I’m trying to do everything by myself,” said Fairgrounds manager Kenneth Ellis, who relies on inmate trustees not only to cut the grass but to do much of the work needed at the show barn for its many events.
“I’m doing all I can, but we’re already having some problems,” he said. “I had a request the other day to have an event but we couldn’t handle it with me alone.”
Juvenile Detention Director Brian Swick mainly needs yard maintenance at the Juvenile Detention Center.
“The inmates used to do all of it,” Swick said, “and now we don’t have any inmates.”
“It’s getting higher and higher,” he said of the grass. “It’s getting bad; it won’t be long until it will be worse.”
However, when Wilson arrived at the meeting and reported to the court on the issue, he said he was not yet ready to release any trustees.
“Our investigation is continuing,” Wilson told the court. “We have a pretty good-sized investigation going with contraband that was being smuggled into the jail. It’s been a time-consuming investigation. We dismissed one employee; we may be dismissing some more. Until we get to the bottom of this contraband issue, the trustees are not coming out. We’re close; we’re working with the DA’s office. Hopefully we’ll get our warrants in the next couple of days, and when we do and get our people arrested and complete our interviews of those we’ve identified, then we’ll be in a position to put the trustees back out.”
Contraband is an issue at any jail, he said, especially when trustees leave and return, and when visitors come into the facility.
He said he plans to institute changes in the way trustees are handled and where they are allowed to be used, though he did not give details.
“We simply cannot, and I will not, tolerate any contraband, particularly when we’re talking about narcotics that are getting smuggled into our jail,” Wilson said. “So we’re doing everything we can do to combat that; and we’re going to be successful in that.”
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