New policy curbs contraband at jail

9:13 am | June 10, 2013

COLUMBIA, Tenn. — The Maury County sheriff says a new policy has led to a reduction in the amount of contraband items found at the jail.

Sheriff Enoch George told the Columbia Daily Herald that inmates on work release no longer go to the same spot for several days at a time. Instead, they are taken somewhere new each day, and they aren’t told where they will be at until the morning that they are going.

“Obviously whenever we come in and there’s contraband, we try to figure out how it’s coming in,” George said. “It’s just one of those things to take precautions to stop the problem from happening.”

He says the policy has cut down on the number of illegal items found among inmates in the jail, including cigarettes and marijuana.

“I think it has certainly curtailed the problem,” George said. “They don’t know where they’re going to the next day. They don’t know where to carry the stuff and hide it.”

George says the policy allows the jail to still provide free labor to nonprofit organizations in the county.

Nonprofit agencies say the free labor benefits the community.

Two inmates are sent five days a week to the Maury County Senior Center, and Director Brenda Grimsley said employees could not do some of their work without the help.

“We absolutely need them, and we appreciate it,” Grimsley said of her staff, which includes elderly members. “We would actually be lifting all that heavy trash, doing all the mopping, pulling weeds.”

Grimsley said it took some time to adjust to the new policy, cut she hasn’t seen and negative effects. The inmates usually do jobs at the center like folding tables, cleaning bathroom or packaging meals for delivery, but none of those require much training or practice.

“Most of the time, they send one that’s been before and a new one, and the one that’s been before helps the new one,” Grimsley said. “… And it’s very important that these people that are in there for breaking the law are not able to do all those things that they’re trying to do.”

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