The Sheriff’s Department must comply with visitor rights that are determined by the state, but the regulations make it easier for visitors to pass drugs to inmates, Favro said.
“They permit inmates to have a brief embrace, a hug and a kiss on the lips from their visitor,” he said. “One of the most common ways of transferring (drug) contraband from a visitor to the inmate is through that kiss.”
In some cases, a visitor might put drugs in part of a latex glove, tie it off, conceal it in his or her mouth and pass it to the mouth of the inmate, Favro said.
Even if officers check the mouths of visitors and inmates, drugs can slip still through the jail walls.
“There’s only so much you can do. It’s very easy to conceal those.”
Items that visitors may give to inmates at the County Jail include magazines, books and greeting cards.
Sifting through items brought to inmates is “a labor-intensive process,” Favro said.
Some visitors place drops of LSD or “blotter acid” in the pages of books and magazines, and since the acid is often clear-colored, it can be difficult to detect, he said.
Each page of a book or magazine must be inspected for marks that could indicate the presence of a drug, he said.
Visitors have also tried to sneak the drug suboxone into the jail.
“It’s very popular because it comes in thin strips,” he said.
The paper-thin strips can be slipped into greeting cards and the bindings of books, the sheriff said.
Favro said the Sheriff’s Department will be using drug dogs during visiting times at the jail more frequently.
In state prisons, weapons, drugs, alcohol, cellphones, memory cards and illegal clothing are all considered contraband, said DOCCS spokesperson Tom Mailey.