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Jail now scanning mail to combat inmate contraband

Inmates in the San Joaquin County Jail are still going to be able to receive mail even with new safety protocols in place.

They just won’t be able to physically touch it.

According to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, in order to prevent the importation of contraband or drugs all mail that is received through the mail room will now be scanned in and delivered to inmates on tablets or printed out and handed to them.

Inmates will still continue to receive printed magazine and newspaper subscriptions just as before, but all letters and materials sent through the United States Postal Service will be subject to these new protocols.

Last year authorities arrested a man for sending cards through the mail into the jail facility that were found to contain liquid methamphetamine. Two inmates received additional charges as a result of the attempt, and both were drug tested and found to have used illegal narcotics after arriving inside of the San Joaquin County Jail.

While all mail has long been inspected for contraband – and that process will continue even under the new system – both inmates and their accomplices have tried to come up with new and innovative ways to smuggle contraband into the secure facility.

Over the last several months there have been a number of inmates that have overdosed on opiates and were brought back with doses of naloxone – known by the trade name Narcan – while others ultimately passed away. In his monthly address to constituents, San Joaquin County Sheriff Pat Withrow pledged to try and do more to keep drugs out of the facility – a task that has proved to be monumental for correctional officers who just last week intercepted a package that was thrown over the secure fence at the San Joaquin County Honor Farm and contained a green leafy substance that is believed to be marijuana.

Because of the technology that is now provided to inmates while in the San Joaquin County Jail, those wishing to send letters can also do the same electronically without having to send anything through the mail – a service that the sheriff’s office says costs roughly the same amount as a postage stamp and eliminates many of the steps that the new system requires.

In order to keep a record of mail that is received, deputies in the mail room will enter the sender information as well as the inmate that is receiving the mail into a computer system so that it can compiled and tracked.  

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.