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September 23, 2013

Prison, jail contraband poses risk for workers, inmates.

Endangers workers, inmates at jails and prisons

PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County Sheriff David Favro says arrests for promoting contraband in the Clinton County Jail have increased in the past year.

“We’ve had significantly more arrests for promoting prison contraband ... because we’ve been more vigilant,” he said.

Contraband poses a risk for both inmates and jail staff alike.

“It can mean an inmate’s life and a officer’s life” if dangerous contraband gets by an officer’s watchful eyes, he said.

Fortunately, Favro said, “I can’t think of the last situation we’ve had where an officer was injured from an inmate weapon in the facility.”

The most recent available statistics for what the state refers to as “unusual incidents” in state facilities, among them Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, are from 2011.

Ninety-six percent were resolved without any injury to staff, with only two serious injuries that year, according to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Unusual Incident Report.

‘MOSTLY DRUGS’

New York state designates two degrees of promoting prison contraband.

First-degree promoting prison contraband, a felony, refers to introducing or making, obtaining or possessing dangerous contraband, while the same charge in the second degree, a misdemeanor, refers to any kind of contraband, even if it’s not necessarily dangerous, according to New York State Penal Law.

Some narcotics are considered dangerous contraband, Favro said.

About 90 percent of the contraband arrests in the County Jail are drug-related, he said, adding that  he can’t remember a time where a visitor has attempted to pass a weapon like a razor blade or knife to an inmate.

The percentage of state prison contraband arrests that are drug-related was not available.

About 23 prison-contraband incidents in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties have appeared in the New York State Police’s daily blotter since June.

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