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New Contact Visit Ban Enacted For Regional Jails In West Virginia

Reported: Apr. 16, 2014 6:35 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 16, 2014 9:59 PM EDT

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Chris Williams) -- Since the regional jails opened in West Virginia, inmates have been allowed contact visits from their loved ones. But Executive Director of the West Virginia Regional Jail Authority Joe DeLong said families are starting to bring in contraband to inmates.

"Technology has made it much easier, in some ways, for inmates and their families to smuggle things into our facilities, and that's just not acceptable to me," DeLong said.

To put a stop to that, DeLong formed a committee to look at the visitation policy. Their goal is to come up with the safest form of visitation for inmates, their families, and correctional officers.

"Until that committee gets back to me, I’ve basically barred the physical touching aspect that takes place during a contact visit," DeLong said.

Delong said families are bringing in drugs that stick to the inmates clothing, and aren't detectable when an officer searches them. They are also using kids to bring in contraband, he said.

"They put a baby on someone’s lap with a diaper, the inmate would find a way slide their hand in the diaper, and take it out of the diaper," DeLong said.

People on WCHS' Facebook page had mixed feelings about the ban on contact visits. Some said inmates shouldn't have the right to see their loved ones, while others said it's only going to make the inmates worse by not seeing their families.

There are normally five or six families in one room during these visits, and DeLong said it's hard for officers to monitor everything that happens. He said it's not safe for anyone if inmates are getting contraband into the jail. That’s why he decided to temporarily ban contact visits.

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