The Nebraska Department of Corrections has increased its efforts to keep contraband out of prisons in recent weeks, following the death of an inmate in June who tested positive for methamphetamine and Ecstasy.
Corrections Director Scott Frakes released an outline of tactics Friday the department is using to try to keep drugs and contraband out of the state's 10 prisons.
“Our team is continuously identifying new strategies to prevent the introduction of contraband inside NDCS facilities. Efforts include a combination of thorough searches, the use of canines, intelligence gathering and accountability,” he said in a news release.
Frakes said more than 80 percent of Nebraska prisoners have some level of substance-abuse issues.
A week ago, a visitor was observed passing drugs to an inmate, according to the release. Staff members confiscated the drugs and the visitor was arrested. Also this week, the department found drugs and a cellphone in an inmate's cell. Contraband has been thrown over the fence three times in the last month, Frakes said.
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The strategies on Frakes' list include searches, by both drug dogs and staff members, detection devices such as metal detectors and X-ray machines, video surveillance, drug testing and accountability of inmates, visitors and staff.
A report filed this week by the Nebraska inspector general of corrections said the death of an inmate at Tecumseh State Correctional Institution from a drug overdose apparently was a result of his own unwise actions.
Daelan Lamere, 22, was found unresponsive in his cell at the Tecumseh prison May 27. He died June 6.
Corrections Inspector General Doug Koebernick said in his report that on May 21 Lamere had a visitor, and afterward a staff member did a strip search and saw a blue pouch in Lamere's mouth. He was told to spit it out, but instead appeared to swallow it. He was then taken to the prison's skilled nursing facility and observed until the next day.
Koebernick also looked at how drugs and alcohol contraband were getting into the prisons. The Department of Correctional Services reported it opened criminal investigations on eight cases involving staff members and seven involving visitors in 2016. This year, it has opened no cases involving staff and four involving visitors.
In an informal staff survey by Koebernick on drugs and illegal liquor, employees suggested doing additional searches of staff, using drug dogs, increasing prosecution and discipline for those caught bringing in drugs, and instituting additional no-contact visits.