ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – Seven pounds of drug contraband were kept out of the St. Charles County Jail just in the last three months, according to the jail director.
Corrections Director Dan Keen introduced the initiative with a metal container called the Amnesty Box.
“This is a no-questions-asked (initiative),” he said. “This is your opportunity to drop any drugs or contraband that you have on you at this time.”
Keen showed a box containing dozens of pills and drug containers. He said the most recent drops came in the past week.
His jail also has a TSA-grade body scanner, which he said won’t catch everything.
“They can stick the fentanyl up under their toenail, and when they get in, they dig it out and then they’re ingesting it,” he said. “When you’re dealing with a population of 86% of them are mental health or substance abuse concerns—86% of them—that’s a huge thing that we need to start focusing on.”
Their preventative attacks go beyond the intake room. They’re watching for drug drops from outside; like someone who might throw a drug-filled tennis ball into the outdoor rec yard.
“Not only do we have fencing on the roofs of our rec yards, but we also have bird netting up there,” Keen said.
The director said books sent to inmates must be shipped directly from a bookstore. Personal mail is scanned off-site, so inmates can later read the contents on a special tablet. He said the jail will also soon be getting body-monitoring bracelets.
“If their heart rate increases rapidly or decreases rapidly, it will alert our medical department and our officers immediately, so we can respond to them or render care,” Keen said.
Lt. Nick Post, a corrections officer, said he’s not seen those responses as of late.
“The overall number of incidents being called out on the radio has drastically decreased,” he said. “I’ve been here for 20 years, and this is the least amount of drugs I’ve seen in here in the past two years.”
They will charge an inmate with drug possession if they find it on someone later. Keen said he’ll never forget one woman’s recent powerful decision—that it ends here.
“She was a standup individual who comes through and tells my officers that, ‘Yes, I have something in my body cavity.’ I’d like to get it retrieved,” he said.
The amnesty box program is not brand new. It’s now about two years old, but it’s to the point where they feel the results are showing it’s now worth talking about.