Local news media toured the St. Charles County jail, as Corrections Director Dan Keen highlighted new ways to keep illegal drugs from getting in.
“All jails are faced with the same thing,” Keen said. “In St. Charles County, we’re trying to stay ahead of the curve.”
Keen walked reporters through the entranceway where people who have just been arrested are shown the Amnesty Box.
The blue metal box, about the size of a mailbox, is their last chance to turn in any drugs they may have on them—no questions asked.
“In the last three months, we’ve pulled 7.3 pounds of drug paraphernalia out of that,” Keen said.
After new arrivals get a chance to use the Amnesty Box, they walk through an airport quality body scanner that can detect hidden objects.
“They hide it in their hair, in their ears, in their nostrils, under skin folds, in their body cavities, and even sometimes they’ll put it in balloons and swallow it so they can get it later,” Keen said.
Other precautions being used:
- Mandatory showers for all new arrivals to wash away possible fentanyl granules hidden under toenails or fingernails.
- Round-the-clock wellness checks on new arrivals every 15 minutes for the first ten days.
- No more physical mail or books coming in (to prevent the soaking of paper with drugs). It’s all electronic now.
- Fish nets roofs on recreation yards to prevent people outside throwing tennis balls filled with drugs in.
Longtime Corrections Officer Lt. Nick Post told reporters the new procedures and equipment are working.
“I’ve been in here for twenty years and this is the least amount of drugs we’ve seen in here in the past two years,” Post said.
Looking forward, Keen says the St. Charles County jail plans to buy more equipment to keep out illegal drugs, including a wristband system that can monitor newly arrested or at risk prisoner’s heart rates to determine if they are at medical risk of death, and a hand scanner that can detect for small amounts of drugs.
“About 86 percent of our inmate population have some problem with substance abuse problems, or, to a lesser extent, mental health issues,” Keen said.