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Over 500 officers conduct contraband raid at prison in Bessemer

BESSEMER, Ala. – More than 350 law enforcement officers from multiple agencies and 150 correctional officers deployed to the William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer to find and remove illegal contraband from the prison.

The operation recovered 500 makeshift weapons, 120 grams of assorted drugs, 26 contraband cell phones, and 30 gallons of julep – an alcohol beverage made from fermented fruit and other ingredients.

“We are restoring order, creating safer conditions and confronting the problem head-on by finding and removing contraband that is the leading cause of criminal activity inside our prisons,” said Deputy Commissioner of Operations Charles Daniels.

The predawn operation on July 16, was the state’s fourth major joint operation led by the Alabama Department of Corrections in 2019.

Daniels added that the contraband operations could not be successfully carried out without the efforts of the Department’s correctional officers and staff.

“Yesterday, more than 150 basic correctional officers and correctional officer trainees worked shoulder-to-shoulder with facility staff, ADOC agents, K9 units, and correctional emergency response teams, while supporting the joint operation. The officers’ presence played a key role in the operation and was critical to its success,” said Daniels.

In June, the ADOC announced a new salary and bonus structure for its correctional officers, resulting from the passage of House Bill 468, which Governor Ivey signed into law on May 29, 2019. The law provides ADOC correctional officers a two-step, 5% pay raise and expands the incentive program to include bonuses for additional training and career milestones for security staff. The compensation changes and the addition of the basic correctional officer position have increased the Department’s staffing applications by more than 150 percent and resulted in record-breaking attendance at ADOC on-site hiring events as compared to recent years.

Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said Tuesday’s joint operation demonstrates a unified approach to solving the contraband problem in state prisons.

“I want to personally thank the law enforcement agencies that participated in the operation by contributing their time and resources and assisting our Department in its efforts to eradicate contraband inside our correctional facilities. We greatly appreciate their support and for all they do for public safety as a whole,” said Dunn.

Tuesday’s operation included support from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Alabama Emergency Management Agency, Alabama Department of Transportation, Alabama Pardons and Paroles, along with the Birmingham, Hueytown and Gardendale Police Departments taking part.

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