Surprising contraband in Fresno County jail

February 12, 2013 12:08:32 AM PST
One of the biggest problems at California prisons is inmates sneaking contraband -- like weapons and cell phones -- into their cells.

Contraband is better controlled at the Fresno County jail, but there have been a few recent security breaches.

Fresno rapper and repeat criminal offender Joshua Fong's rap freestyle is rare evidence the Fresno County jail is not an impenetrable fortress.

Cell phones, like the one Fong used, have made their way to inmates only a couple times in the last year, according to Sheriff Margaret Mims.

"We believe that it happens very, very rarely, but we have to keep diligent," the sheriff said.

Jail deputies are thorough in their efforts to police the jail. Strip searches and metal detectors stop nearly every attempt to smuggle contraband into housing areas.

"So there is some security," said ABC-30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi. "The problem is, that doesn't happen every time. Many times after an attorney visit the inmate isn't patted down and doesn't necessarily go through the surveillance."

Capozzi is one of a small number of people allowed contact visits.

While family and friends visiting inmates are kept on the opposite side of thick glass, attorneys and defense investigators meet them in small conference rooms. Sheriff's investigators believe that's where the cell phones changed hands.

"One was taken from the attorney when he left the room for a short period of time by the inmate," Sheriff Mims said. "The other one was -- a private investigators had gone in and according to him, he left it in the meeting room with the inmate and the inmate got hold of it."

The private investigator lost his jail pass as a result. But cell phones aren't the only contraband sneaking into the jail.

Action News acquired a search warrant detailing the sexually explicit images found in the jail cell of Dimitrios Kastis. The former soccer coach in Clovis is facing trial on child molestation charges.

According to the warrant, investigators believe someone working on the case may have delivered the material to Kastis. Jail deputies discovered it during a large scale cell search -- one more layer of the jail's security matrix.

"And I think they've done an excellent job of watching and ensuring that no contraband is coming in," Capozzi said.

Sheriff Mims says contraband will always be a concern as long as there are jails. But her staff is always working to make sure the only rap you'll hear from inmates like Fong is the one they take in court.


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