HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Oklahoma Prisons Battling Drug Smuggling
Pubdate: Sun, 11 Nov 2001
Source: Oklahoman, The (OK)
Copyright: 2001 The Oklahoma Publishing Co.


The state Department of Corrections is using sniffing dogs, random 
shakedowns, drug tests and strict visitation policies to crack down on 
drugs use in prisons.

But illegal substances still are making their way behind bars in Oklahoma, 
said officials and former prisoners.

Drugs are brought into prisons in body cavities of visitors, carried in by 
staffers and put in the false bottoms of shoes and on the back of stamps, 
state Correction Director Ron Ward told the Tulsa World.

"Just about anything imaginable can be done," said Ward, former warden at 
Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. "Obviously, we haven't found all 
the sources."

During fiscal year 2000, the most recent period for which complete 
information was available, the department reported conducting 16,442 random 
drug tests systemwide with 1,423 or 8.7 percent positive results.

Marijuana was detected in 74 percent of the positive tests. Cocaine was the 
second most detected drug.

Some former inmates say the drug culture is thriving inside Oklahoma's 
prisons, but Ward disagrees.

"It really isn't rampant," Ward said. "We probably, I would say, do as good 
a job as anyone in drug interdictions, based on the resources we have 

Ward said a visitor tried to bring in drugs in a six-pack of soft drinks 
that had a false inside. Drugs also have been found on the back of stamps 
and adhesive on envelopes.

William Foster, 43, who served about five years for cultivating marijuana 
in Tulsa County, laughs when asked how drugs get into prisons.

"The guards," he said. "I mean, come on. Let's be realistic. We are in a 
fenced environment and have to go through three fences, with numerous 
checks. Who do you think brings it in? Who are the only people that can 
walk through those check points and not be searched?"

He said visitors also bring drugs into prisons, but on a limited basis.

"It is very, very hard to bring in any type of dope that way," he said. "It 
is very small quantities, usually for personal use."

Some visitors pass drugs to an inmate by swallowing a balloon or condom 
filled with drugs and regurgitating it in the restroom, officials said. But 
the larger quantities of drugs come in through staff, Foster said.

"When you can match the money they are going to make for 15 minutes of work 
for as much as they are going to make in two weeks, why wouldn't they?" 
Foster asked.
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