The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department has changed its incoming mail policy for the jail to keep drugs and other contraband out of inmates’ hands.

“We are finding an increase in drugs, mostly suboxone, coming in through mail to our inmates,” Sheriff Matt Myers said.

Suboxone contains a combination of buprenorphine, an opioid medication, and naloxone, which blocks the effects of opioids.

Suboxone can slow or stop a person’s breathing and can be habit-forming even at regular doses, with misuse leading to addiction, overdose or death, Myers said.

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This is especially the case in incidents involving children or anyone using the medication without a prescription, he said.

Taking Suboxone during pregnancy may cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in a newborn.

In order to reduce the chances of this type of contraband getting to inmates, Myers has ordered that no incoming correspondence with colored paper or colored envelopes, including cards or postcards, will be allowed.

Only plain white paper and non-security envelopes will be allowed, he said.

No crayon, colored pencil or marker correspondence will be allowed. Anything with fragrance, stains or discolorations will not be allowed. All stamps will be removed and discarded. Myers also said all envelopes must contain the full name and address of the sender.

Inmates have been told of the changes in regards to incoming and outgoing mail, Myers said.

Jail employees use TruNarc technology to identify narcotics anytime someone believes a suspicious substance has appeared in an inmate’s mail, Myers said.

In 2016, there were two incidents in which contraband was found and in 2017, contraband was intercepted 12 times, Myers said. So far in 2018, there have been three attempts to get contraband into the jail.

“As we research treatment programs for our inmates, we certainly are going to do everything we can to keep drugs from getting into the jail,” Myers said. “Our K-9s are frequently being brought into the jail and we have increased random shakedowns.”

The jail also is researching scanner options to allow employees to scan all mail coming into the jail to stop trafficking, he said.

The directive from Myers is similar to an Indiana Department of Correction directive issued last November.

Bartholomew County Jail Commander Maj. John Martoccia said it is a crime to possess a controlled substance or even tobacco in the jail.

“People go to great lengths — and depths — to smuggle and hide drugs and other contraband,” Martoccia said.

Myers warned that anyone bringing in or mailing contraband to the jail will be charged to the fullest extent of the law.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.