• Corrections officer: Florida strategy to keep contraband out of prisons won't work

    By: Jenna Bourne , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    MORE: Florida prison visits cut in half because of contraband, staff shortage

    A Florida corrections officer said the state’s strategy to keep contraband out of prison won’t work.

    Action News Jax reported Wednesday that Florida inmate Gary Sims was charged after the Putnam County Sheriff said he used a contraband cellphone to send nude photos to an undercover detective, who he believed was an underage girl.

    Last month, the Florida Department of Corrections announced its plans to cut prison visitation in half.

    On Thursday afternoon in Tallahassee, local families joined protesters across the state to demonstrate their opposition to the change.

    MORE: Putnam Sheriff: 14 arrested in online child sex sting

    Starting next month, families will only be able to visit their loved ones in Florida state prisons every other weekend.

    The Florida Department of Corrections blames the change on staff shortages and contraband. 

    A video shot by a Florida inmate on a contraband cellphone shows inmates behind bars with a machete, drugs and cash.

    “I’ve personally found drugs and money on an inmate,” a corrections officer of 25 years told Action News Jax.

    Speaking out could cost him his job, but he agreed to let Action News Jax record his voice on condition of anonymity.

    MORE: PHOTOS: Putnam Sheriff announces 14 arrests in 'Operation Be Mine' child sex sting

    He said cutting visitation in half won’t stop contraband because his fellow corrections officers are also supplying it in exchange for cash.

    “Once they get them to do it the first time, you know, an inmate’s pretty much got staff hooked at that point, because all they have to do is threaten to tell on them and the staff’s stuck,” said the corrections officer.

    Six Florida Department of Corrections officers have already been arrested this year.

    “Cutting visits for staff shortages is a stupid statement because they’re still running visits every week.

    They’re still going to need to use the same amount of staff if they’re going to do it safely,” said the corrections officer.

    He said some inmates who go outside prisons to participate on work crews also bring contraband back into the prisons with them.

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