Drug Abuse Grows In OH Prisons; Officials Seek Ways to Keep Contraband Out


A state prison might be the last place you would expect to find illegal drug use, says the Columbus Dispatch, but Ohio officials say that more than 3 percent inmates test positive for drugs. The vast majority used marijuana, but there were positives for opiates, cocaine, and alcohol as well. The estimated 1,650 inmates on drugs at some point “is too high and absolutely unacceptable as part of security of a prison,” said Gary Mohr, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. “When we see an increase, it's taken very seriously.”

The rate is nearly twice as high as in 2011, when 120 of 6,908 inmates tested positive, or 1.74 percent. Most drugs come in over prison walls and fences, said Todd Ishee, a regional prison director. People outside conceal drugs in soccer and tennis balls, clumps of dirt or other things and toss them into prison yards, where they are picked up by waiting inmates. Cellphones, another common form of contraband, cross over the walls in similar fashion. To combat these tactics, prison officials are installing more lights, cameras and motion detectors on fences; increasing perimeter patrols; clearing out nearby trees so that would-be smugglers can't hide; and using drug-sniffing dogs. Some drugs are smuggled into prisons by corrections officers.

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