When birthday cards are mailed to the Porter County Jail, copies of the cards are made which then are passed on to the inmates, Porter County Sheriff’s Department Chief Jeff Biggs said.
Inmates also no longer are allowed to receive books from the outside, he added.
These are two of the precautions area jail officials now take in an ever-more difficult effort to keep their facilities free of illegal drugs.
“It’s a porous building,” LaPorte County Police Capt. Michael Kellems said of jails.
“It’s going to have holes,” he said. “It’s going to have places for things to get in.”
Kellems’ department had a harsh reminder of this last month when a 35-year-old female inmate was found unresponsive in her cell and later pronounced dead at nearby LaPorte Hospital.
The department announced last week that the inmate — Andrea Roberts — accidentally overdosed on narcotics. She had a lethal dose of the drug fentanyl in her system, police said.
Officials from Porter and Lake counties said they have had no overdoses among inmates in recent times.
Police believe most of the drugs in the jails were brought in by inmates, either on or in their bodies.
“It is our procedure to have the transporting officer search the inmate upon arrival at the jail if he suspects narcotics or other contraband,” Lake County Deputy Jail Administrator Edward Davies said.
“If drugs or contraband is found, then the officer will file those charges against the suspect,” he said.
LaPorte’s Kellems, who once worked as jail commander in his county, said the facility also does thorough searches, but not as invasive as some inmates are willing to go to hide the drugs in their bodies.
The department hopes to address those trickier cases by approaching the County Council with a request to purchase a body scanner, he said.
“It’s a tough thing to combat, especially when you can bring…