Inmates caught in contraband sweep at Rio Cosumnes jail

7:24 PM, Feb 21, 2011   |    comments
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One of the homemade knives - or "shanks" - found during a shakedown at Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center

ELK GROVE, CA - Jailers had a big surprise Monday for inmates at Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center -- what deputies are calling the largest jail shakedown in Sacramento County history. SLIDESHOW: Contraband sweep at Rio Cosumnes jail

The operation, known as "Operation Clean Sweep," involved 340 officers from Sacramento, surrounding counties, and the state's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said Jail Commander Karlene Doupe. 

Doupe said officers found all kinds of contraband in prisoners' cells - illicit medications, stockpiles of fruit that can be used to make jailhouse liquor, and an array of the homemade knives known as shanks. 

"Weapons are always going to be a problem and the introduction of narcotics," Doupe explained. "Jail safety is our concern. We want to make sure it's safe for inmates and the staff. We wanted to go in and clean it up." 

Doupe said RCCC's inmate population has changed in recent years.  The jail used to house mostly misdemeanor offenders, but now there are also two-strike felons, prisoners awaiting transport to state prison, and inmates waiting to go to trial among the facilities 2200 inmates. 

Doupe said as the sophistication of the criminals increased, so have problems inside the jail. 

"We're looking for (information) prisoners pass from one jail block to another," Doupe said. "Some of the (intelligence) they came up with today pertained to credit card theft and fraud, information on other inmates' charges, locations and their residences.  And we even found a detailed map of an unknown subject's residence." 

Doupe pointed out "We also have rival gangs, and not just four gangs but up to 32 gangs." 

Officers found dozens of bowls and plastic spoon swiped by inmates.  "A plastic spoon can be sharpened on the end.  It's just a shank waiting to happen," said Doupe. 

The shakedown put inmates on notice that guards are watching what they're doing. 

Some of the items found may lead to more charges for some of the inmates and more jail time. 

By Karen Massie

Related story: Sacramento County jail sweep reveals growing gang activity


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