AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) said it was implementing an immediate lockdown and comprehensive search of all correctional facilities within TDCJ.
On Wednesday, the TDCJ said it was taking immediate action to address a rise in dangerous contraband and drug-related inmate homicides.
The TDCJ said illegal narcotics entering the system increased over the last five years, and this year, the number of inmate-on-inmate homicides has increased.
“It is believed that the majority of the incidents are tied back to illegal drugs,” the TDCJ said.
According to the TDCJ, it was taking additional measures to detect and prevent the entry of dangerous contraband into its facilities.
The systemwide lockdown will help each facility limit the movement of inmates and their contact with those outside the prison, according to the TDCJ. Inmates and staff will also undergo intensified searches to intercept and confiscate contraband, according to the TDCJ.
In addition to the lockdown, the TDCJ said it would also complete the rollout of a digital mail program.
“Over the last few years, there has been a significant increase in paper soaked in K2 or methamphetamines coming into our facilities,” the TDCJ said. “The digital mail program will halt this contraband being sent through traditional mail.”
The program was in place as of Wednesday, and the TDCJ said all inmate mail should be addressed and sent to the Digital Mail Center.
According to the TDCJ, there would also be an increase in K9 searches, as well as the use of other technology.
“To assist in contraband detection and outside funding related to contraband, TDCJ will be deploying additional resources,” the TDCJ said. “Specialized search teams and narcotic dogs will be deployed to units and staff will be subject to enhanced search procedures.”
The TDCJ said everyone entering its facilities at all locations would undergo comprehensive searches.
According to the TDCJ, additional measures could be implemented to safeguard the lives and well-being of all those within its care.
Visitation at its facilities was canceled until further notice since staff will be concentrating on search efforts, according to the TDCJ. However, inmates will still have access to the phone system and tablets.
“Once these comprehensive searches are complete, normal operations will resume,” the TDCJ said.