K-9s curb contraband at Wilkinson County Correctional Facility

WILKINSON COUNTY, MS (WAFB) - Keeping guns, drugs and tobacco out of Mississippi prisons has been a challenge, so the Management and Training Corporation, which operates four prisons in the state, has launched some new ammo in its fight against contraband.

There are some new security secrets buried behind the razor wire fences of the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility. You won't spot them at first glance, but the people who live and work there know someone or something is watching their every move.

Warden Frank Shaw said while the prison hasn't had issues keeping inmates from escaping, keeping contraband out has been a challenge.

"Some of the things you see trying to be introduced is tobacco which is number one, marijuana, cell phones, glue," said Frank Shaw, WCCF Warden.

WCFC used to call on K-9s to sniff out the prison, but Shaw said the situation had gotten so bad, the facility fetched its own unit; two German Shepherds name Maja and Blek. Officer Sandra Staden works directly with the duo.

"We bring them out to the parking lot, have them search cars, take them into the warehouses," said Sandra Staden with the K-9 Unit. The dogs also search staff offices and the cells of nearly 900 inmates.

"Sometimes, we have the offenders get on the wall, most the time they clear them and zone them in the yard and we search them," said Staden.

Another security enhancement is the addition of a large fence with a catch basin. It's meant to keep cigarettes, knives and other things that are not allowed into the facility, out. The warden said he's seen a significant improvement so far.

"Since we've had that netting there has not been a successful attempt to introduce contraband in the facility," said Shaw.

If the 30-foot fence doesn't catch the culprits, the cameras will. Those too have gotten a boost. They are now loaded with features that allow them to pan, zoom and tilt. The warden says the campus is covered.

"We're going to continue to fight the contraband war and hopefully our efforts will make a big difference here at our facility," Shaw added.

The warden says he plans to add more dogs to the K-9 unit in the near future.

Copyright 2014 WAFB. All rights reserved.