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Keeping Contraband Out of Prisons: Four Prisons to Use Dogs

JACKSON, Miss.–You hear about it a lot: cell phones, drugs, tobacco, smuggled in to prisoners in all kinds of clever ways (perhaps some of the more clever ways include shooting them over the fence with a potato gun and throwing them into the rec yard in a basketball, then there’s the bodily orifices). Now four Mississippi prisons operated by a private company, are looking to stop contraband by using dogs trained to sniff it out.

Management and Training Corp., which is based in Utah, said in a news release that the highly-trained animals will be used to sniff out whatever contraband might be brought in by guards or family members.

Contraband has been an extreme problem in Mississippi jails and prisons, so much so that in facilities operated by the state, the guards are now routinely searched, just like the prisoners.

One of the problems is that guards make such a low wage in the state that they are tempted to supplement their income by providing the prisoners with luxuries like pot and cell phones for extra cash. A phone can go for as much as $500.

While Mississippi offers some very stiff penalties for it, like 15 years in the pen, the contraband still seems to flow freely. Earlier this year, two employees were caught with drugs and tobacco in a burrito and a sub sandwich.

Management and Training, a company that has taken a lot of heat for unsanitary and violent prison conditions, operates four prison facilities here: East Mississippi Correctional Facility near Meridian, the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility in Walnut Grove, the Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly Springs and the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility in Woodville.

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