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Jail search nets knives, cell phones, tobacco

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Incoming sheriff plans steps to reduce contraband

By VINCE LUECKE, Editor

CANNELTON – A shakedown of the Perry County Jail turned up a dangerous mix of contraband Tuesday, including a filet and pocket knives, cell phones and loose tobacco.

Chief Deputy Lee Chestnut, who will take office as sheriff Jan.1, said he wants to take steps to reduce the chances of banned items coming into the jail, especially those that could pose a danger to jail staff and other offenders.

“These are the kinds of items prisoners want to get into the jail and we have to keep them out,” Chestnut said of the items found during the shakedown, which included strip searches of the jail population and searches of bull pens and sleeping areas.

Chestnut said he’s unsure where the filet knife with a blade several inches long originated. Pocket knives were also located, as were five cell phones and two bags of loose tobacco. The phones pose a serious security issue because they could be used to communicate with people planning new crimes or in plotting to escape the facility.

The jail is a tobacco-free facility and hand-rolled cigarettes are often trafficked among offenders.

Men and women are searched before they are booked into cells but much of the contraband is entering the jail through vents or though holes made in the facility’s walls. Chestnut said he hopes to place new strands of razor wire to prevent people from reaching the roof and has asked Cannelton Board of Public Works members for permission to install new fencing next to the jail.

Chestnut is a member of a jail committee examining plans that could lead to construction of a new facility.

The county jail was built in 1965 and has been plagued by overcrowding.