Mississippi prisons shakedown nets 150 shanks and other contraband

Published: Mar. 16, 2015 at 7:37 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 17, 2015 at 9:51 AM CDT
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Officials say confiscating contraband cuts into the ability of prison gangs to cause harm....
Officials say confiscating contraband cuts into the ability of prison gangs to cause harm. (Photo source: MDOC)
Bringing contraband into a correctional facility is punishable by three to 15 years in prison,...
Bringing contraband into a correctional facility is punishable by three to 15 years in prison, a maximum $25,000 fine, or both. (Photo source: MDOC)

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - Shanks, drugs and cell phones. Those are just some of the items Mississippi Department of Corrections officers found in recent prison shakedowns. Since the beginning of February, two private and two state prisons have been searched. The most recent search took place Friday at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.

In the past few weeks, the Department of Corrections said more than 150 shanks of varying sizes, tobacco, cell phones, cell phone chargers and an assortment of other contraband have been found on inmates or in their cells.

"This is a public safety issue," said Commissioner Marshall Fisher. "One shank or one cell phone is one too many. Officers routinely do periodic shakedowns unit by unit. But this is a show of force with a large number of officers both in and outside the agency searching units simultaneously."

Fisher said confiscating contraband cuts into the ability of prison gangs to cause harm. In addition to the shakedowns, he said they also keep contraband out by installing netting around perimeter fences, using body scanners, hand wand metal detectors and K-9 cell phone detector dogs.

Bringing contraband into a correctional facility is punishable by three to 15 years in prison, a maximum $25,000 fine, or both. Conspiracy to introduce contraband carries up to a $5,000 fine, five years imprisonment, or both.

Here's a rundown of what items were found in which prisons in the recent shakedowns: Contraband items found at Parchman on Friday included 25 shanks, 11 cellular phones, one MP3 player, nine cellular phone chargers and a large amount of what appeared to be marijuana.

The shakedown at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution in Greene County netted 36 shanks, 13 cell phones, two cell phone chargers, a tattoo gun, an assortment of pills, two bags of a white powdery substance and two Bluetooth devices.

At the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility in Wilkinson County officers confiscated more than 60 shanks, razors, watches, medication, a VHS tape and tattoo guns.

The search at East Mississippi Correctional Facility in Lauderdale County uncovered more than 50 shanks, tobacco products, cell phone batteries, tobacco, SIM cards, a small amount of cash, improvised metal and wooden clubs, a homemade crack pipe, a bag of white crystal substance, suspected pills, jewelry and tattoo material.

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