COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Mail entering the Muscogee County jail can be a health hazard to some inmates. That’s why officials believe the new mailing system being implemented at the jail could potentially save lives.
Jail officials say they have discovered some of the mail sent to inmates is being sprayed with illegal and hazardous substances. According to officials, inmates have been caught ingesting mail tainted with the substances.
In one instance, an inmate ate a piece of mail that was covered in Raid bug spray, according to officials. Muscogee County Sheriff Greg Countryman says this is one reason the jail is switching to electronic mail.
“We want to be able to alleviate that threat, to make sure that we can ensure good health for those that are opening up the mail. It becomes a safety issue, it becomes a health issue,” Countryman said.
Several inmates have been rushed to the jail clinic and the emergency room due to them eating their mail. Countryman says some people inside of the jail suffer from addiction problems and will try to get their high anyway possible, even if it means digesting non-edible items.
Correctional officers have no way of testing the mail to determine if it has been covered in these illegal or hazardous substances until an inmate has eaten it. Blood work from inmates who have been hospitalized allows jail officials to discover what the mail has been laced with.
Until the new mailing system is set up, all inmates will not receive an original copy of their mail, unless it is mail from their attorney. Jail officials will photo-copy their mail, allowing inmates to have a duplicate copy to ensure safety.
“Our staff does a great job down at Muscogee County Jail. The jail bureau has done great work they have caught a lot of these incidents. They’ve reported it and I can’t help but to compliment what they are doing,” Countryman said.
If it can be proven and a solid legal case has been built, officials say those sending laced mail to the jail will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“If we catch contraband, if we catch any type of drug that crosses that guard line that we can prove. It doesn’t have to be mail, if we can prove that someone provided that to an inmate we are going to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law and we are not going to play with them,” Countryman said.
The new mailing system is set to take effect on March 15, 2021.