Home News Local news CONTRABAND SEIZED PROMPTS PRISON CRACKDOWN

CONTRABAND SEIZED PROMPTS PRISON CRACKDOWN

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Sept. 10, 2003 – Last Friday night, inmates at the Golden Grove Correctional Facility on St. Croix were interrupted from their sleep for a surprise inspection carried out from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. Saturday.
Using information from intelligence sources, some 36 law-enforcement officers working in teams searched about a hundred cells in the prison, which houses about 500 inmates.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Attorney General Iver Stridiron said that the shakedown netted three large boxfuls of rusty weapons including hunting knives, "shanks" (improvised weapons made by sharpening various implements), soldering irons, hacksaws and homemade machetes.
Cellular phones, money and drugs packaged in dime ($10) bags also were also found, he said, along with several charge cards for Victoria's Secret and Spiegel, among other things, and a bootleg DVD of "S.W.A.T.," a movie that just finished its theater run on St. Thomas and is still playing on St. Croix.
If authorities can determine which inmates were responsible for the illegal weapons and drugs, they will "prosecuted and brought before the courts again," Corrections Bureau director John Trawick said. Penalties for possession of items that are forbidden within the prison but are not illegal will be handled by Golden Grove authorities, he said.
Trawick and William Curtis, Justice Department special investigations director, led the search operations, which also involved personnel from the Police Department and its K9 Corps, the Territorial Marshals Office and the Planning and Natural Resources Department's Enforcement Division.
Stridiron said that inmates' family members or friends, or prison guards, may have carried the various items into the prison. Trawick said the institution's policy on searching visitors, employees, parcels and vehicles before they enter the prison was not being enforced, but that has now changed. From now on, even the attorney general will be searched when he visits the prison, Trawick said.
Visitors caught trying to sneak contraband to inmates will join them behind bars, Stridiron said, because his office will prosecute them for their crimes. He declined to say whether any friends or family members of inmates are currently under investigation.
Corrections officers found to be providing inmates with contraband could end up being sent to the Wallens Ridge maximum security prison in Virginia, the attorney general said. He said that one such officer was sentenced to serve five years there in 2001.
Stridiron said similar shakedowns lie ahead both for Golden Grove and for the prison facilities on St. Thomas. "We want to make this prison system a model for the whole country," he said.
Trawick said he hopes inmates' family members will be comforted by the searches, because they will help to ensure the safety of the inmates and the Corrections officers.

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