There aren’t any Christmas cards inside the cells of Kosciusko County Jail this season.
The recent banning of holiday and greeting cards at the jail is an effort to keep fentanyl and other drugs out of the jail, and advocated by Sheriff Rocky Goshert, who resumed his former role overseeing the department this summer.
These days, the only correspondence passed along to inmates are messages written on simple white paper, Goshert said.
Christmas cards – especially the complex multi-fold cards – are used by folks trying to provide illegal substances to inmates.
Fentanyl represents a bigger problem because it can be lethal in small amounts. The drug is being combined with heroin.
The most common way inmates are attempting to introduce drugs into the jail is with drug-soaked mail.
Liquid fentanyl and opioids are being placed on and absorbed into holiday and greeting cards – often inside the folded portions of the card.
It is easier to spot tampering in plain notebook paper, which is a thinner stock.
Goshert said they took action after 34 people in Allen County were sickened Nov. 21 after they came into contact with the high-powered drug. Officials believe the fentanyl made its way into the facility through the mail.
According to the Journal Gazette, jail officers found the substance after an inmate tried to use an electrical outlet to light the paper. That caused a small fire in the outlet.
Goshert, who participated in a communitywide discussion on opioids earlier this month in Warsaw, said the jail is having to change its approach in dealing with opioids and fentanyl, and incoming mail has become a major issue.
“I know it’s a matter of time before we have an overdose death,” Goshert said.
Whitley County Jail, east of Kosciusko County, altered its policy on Dec. 15 in an attempt to help impede the introduction of narcotics and synthetic narcotics into the jail, jail officials said in a recent news release.
Jail Commander Sean Martin and Sheriff Marcus Gatton established this new policy with guidance from the State Of Indiana Department Correction and other Indiana county jails policies, the press release said.
Gatton termed it a matter of safety and pointed to the Allen County incident.
Whitley County confinement officers are also screening mail with a new procedure to help detect possible narcotics, the statement said.