Drug smuggling, and the seizure of drugs, has increased dramatically at many California county jails, including facilities in San Bernardino County, and officials believe a change in inmate sophistication is the reason.
The Associated Press on Sunday reported that San Bernardino County saw a 102-percent increase in “drug seizures between 2010 and 2012,” a hike that corresponds to the passage of AB109 in 2011.
West Valley Detention Center Capt. Jeff Rose told the Daily Press on Tuesday that the problem can be attributed to “more sophisticated inmates” spending more time at county jails.
Rose said felony inmates who would have done time in prison before AB109 are spending more time at county jails, bringing their drug habits with them. He stressed that the issue isn’t an increase in the inmate population, but the type of inmates who are coming in and the length of time they are staying.
“In our county, the inmate population is set,” Rose said. “We can’t add beds. The amount of inmates hasn’t changed, it’s the type. Those that would be sent to prison after a stint in jail are staying in jail.”
Drug smuggling in jails is nothing new, Rose said. Criminals have been smuggling drugs inside their bodies for as long as most jail officials can remember.
San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said the large increase in seizures should be taken as a positive, a sign that officials are catching the drugs.
“The statistics are going up, and that’s a result of us finding it,” McMahon said. “With AB109 and the different types of inmates we’re dealing with, we have to pay very close attention to the new ways that they’re smuggling in.”
The Associated Press reported San Bernardino County is one of seven counties that saw drug seizure increases. Only Fresno and Contra Costa counties reported no noticeable changes.
Associated Press reporter Gillian Flaccus contributed to this report.