DOVER - When a former Rochester man was indicted last month for allegedly trying to smuggle drugs into Strafford County Jail, it went down as just the second such indictment of 2018, according to figures from the Strafford County Sheriff's Office obtained by The Rochester Voice last week.
In fact last year's numbers are the same as 2017 when, again, only two drug smuggling indictments were obtained in cases involving the jail.
Trevar Delisle, 22, formerly of Daffodil Lane, was indicted on Dec. 20 for allegedly possessing burprenorphine, an opioid substitute, inside the jail on Sept. 4.
Strafford County House of Corrections Superintendent Chris Brackett says the numbers represent something of a success story and show that the jail's anti-drug policies and protocols are paying off.
"We're making considerable progress with changes we've implemented and we're looking to improve upon it," Brackett says.
The more recent security upgrades have their origins in a June 2017 incident in which several inmates had to hospitalized after overdosing. Jail officials concluded they'd come in possession of the contraband through the mail.
Soon after, jail personnel terminated all general mail deliveries to prisoners.
Brackett said the policy was begun because inmates and their associates on the outside had found out how to smuggle drugs through the mail.
"We stopped all personal mail; there was evidence supporting the existence of messages in which contraband was affixed to paper," said Brackett without going into exactly how it was done.
Then six months ago, they tightened the screws a bit more after it was discovered even legal mail (mail addressed to inmates from attorneys) was coming in adulterated with controlled substances.
Now a new policy allows for jail personnel to open the mail in front of the prisoner, photocopy the correspondence and pass on only the copies to the inmate.
"That significantly decreased the amount of contraband coming in, too," Brackett said.
Other drug detection protocols include use of the Secure Pass body scanner at intake, additional staff as well as some 400 impromptu, unannounced searches at the jail of 160 two-man cells as well as a barracks style housing unit every month.
Brackett acknowledges they'll never fully eradicate the use of drugs inside the jail, but he feels confident they're headed in the right direction.