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District attorney’s investigator says inmates get creative when bringing in contraband

MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. -  WHNT  News 19 revealed the number of promoting prison contraband cases moving through the Marshall County Court System during our Taking Action Investigation: Bad behavior. There are currently 20 cases.

The Marshall County Circuit Court's Office confirms those cases were filed between April 1, 2018, to July 17, 2018. None of those are first-degree promoting prison contraband, which includes guns or makeshift knives. The district attorney's office's chief investigator said his office does see this charge from the jail.

"They take a bed and tear it down, and rip something under it and make a shank or make a weapon inside," Chief Investigator John Young said.

Right now, the nine felonies are second-degree, which is drugs and other stuff.

"Could be a cell phone, it could be fingernail clips," Young explained.

The eleven misdemeanors are third-degree promoting prison contraband. "Anything that is prohibited in the jail that doesn't fall into the first two categories," Young said.

Young said you would be surprised where people will hide contraband, including in their body cavities. Young said inmates get creative when trying to bring stuff in.

"One of the things they'll do is heat up the windows and cause a small hole in the cell window, put a string down to the ground at night and somebody will come along and attach whatever to it and they'll pull it up, get it inside the cell and find a way to block that hole," Young explained.

But, The Marshall County Jail does not have the means nor security measures to afford a better system of searching through every cell and every inmate.

"Until you get a jail with a dome over it, and maybe x-ray machines at the entrance, you're always going to have somebody figure out a different way," Young said.

For now, the sheriff's office is trying to fix their problems with new jailers. One started in the jail on Tuesday and they're hiring more corrections officers now.

Young said many of these charges stem from people who still have contraband on them when they are brought to the jail for booking. This is especially true for women, as male officers do not search them until they get to the jail.

The Marshall County Jail is supervised by Sheriff Scott Walls, in his third term as sheriff, but he was defeated in his quest for a 4th term and leaves the sheriff's office in January.

WHNT News 19 reached out again to his office, as we have throughout our investigative series, and we have not heard back from Sheriff Walls yet.