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Sheriff limits visitors' contact No more hugs for inmates

Glodis sets jail barriers

By Shaun Sutner Telegram & Gazette Staff
[email protected]

WEST BOYLSTON- Saying prisoners' contact visits are to blame for most of the drugs and weapons entering the county jail, Sheriff Guy W. Glodis has ordered an end to the face-to-face sessions in most sections of the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction.

Contact visits between inmates and family members and friends will end April 1, and the last remaining open meeting area will be converted to a noncontact room in which prisoners and visitors are separated by plexiglass windows and must converse by phone or through a mesh steel screen.

"Contact visits are the biggest source for drugs, narcotics and contraband coming into this facility," the sheriff, who took office Jan. 6, said in an interview in his office at the sprawling jail complex.

Sheriff Glodis said the policy - which he made a central campaign pledge during his election battle against former Sheriff John M. Flynn - is part of a new approach that will link prisoners' other privileges, such as television and canteen services, to their willingness to participate in rehabilitation and education programs.

He said ending contact visits will improve security and rehabilitation at the jail and cut down on violence among prisoners and visitors by curtailing gang members' leverage of drugs, tobacco and other items as mediums of exchange.

"There has to be some kind of disincentive to go to jail," he said. "This shouldn't be a place to be coddled, hugged or given contact. This is a penal facility in which you lose many rights. That's why it's a jail."

Contact visits will still be allowed in the minimum-security wing of the jail.

Civil liberties activists and advocates for prisoners decried the sheriff's action as unneeded and counterproductive to rehabilitating prisoners, many of whom are in jail for relatively minor offenses and for whom, it is said, maintaining family ties helps keep them from becoming hardened criminals.

Russell S. Chernin, a Worcester lawyer and board member of the Worcester chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, questioned the tie between contact visits and contraband and maintained that jail officials should step up their own security and monitoring efforts. He also charged that correction officers, not just visitors, are responsible for smuggling in contraband.

"When you end social contact, you're adding another hurdle for getting these people back into society," Mr. Chernin said. "It's a bad idea in terms of corrections policy. It's a policy that gives a politician some good lines, but in reality it's not a problem that needs solving."

Jail officials reported that over the last four years they have brought charges against 175 civilians and inmates for drug possession or introduction into the jail of other contraband, such as cigarettes, weapons or currency.

In August, a correction officer was charged with bringing in tobacco. In 2001, a jail infirmary worker pleaded guilty to delivering heroin and a needle and syringe to her incarcerated boyfriend.

Sheriff Glodis denied guards are a major source of contraband.

"There's only been one or two examples in the last few years," he said. "The vast, overwhelming majority of the cases is through contact visits."

A spokesman for the correction officers' union said the union supports the no-contact policy.

The term "contact visit" is somewhat of a misnomer. In reality, for several years inmates and visitors have only been allowed to embrace briefly at the end of a visit. Jail administrators say skilled prisoner-visitor teams quickly transfer small packages when busy guards aren't paying full attention, or sneak drugs or cash secreted in a baby's diaper or under a baby bottle.

Kissing - blamed for many drug "drops" in which a visitor passed a drug-filled balloon to a prisoner - was banned several years ago.

And the former sheriff in October converted a large visiting room in the modular units to noncontact, leaving only one major area in the main visitor building where contact is allowed. Jail officials say smuggling incidents at the modular visiting room have dropped dramatically since contact was banned.

During a visit to the jail yesterday, prisoners and visitors in the remaining contact room gazed at each other and chatted over a short wooden partition under the watchful gaze of two correction officers.

Asked what he thinks of Sheriff Glodis' new policy, one prisoner said, "It stinks."

The prisoner, who said he was in for a short term for assault and battery, said he doesn't know how drugs get in because he doesn't use drugs.

A visitor in the contact room said he doesn't like the idea of noncontact visits either, because it's hard to talk through the glass partition and the phones often break down.

A few feet away in the noncontact room, a woman from Worcester talked on the phone to her 45-year-old son, a maximum-security inmate who she said robbed a department store to finance a drug habit.

"I miss the contact, the hugging," she said.

Prisoners at the Worcester County jail area are allowed up to three two-hour visits a week. The sheriff said he has no plans to change that.

Sheriff Glodis said he has ample legal backup for the new policy. He cited several court decisions, including one by the U.S. Supreme Court, affirming prison officials' right to limit visiting privileges.
 

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Re: Sheriff limits visitors' contact No more hugs for inmate

"I miss the contact, the hugging," she said. :cry: Whine whine whine. :cry:

"There has to be some kind of disincentive to go to jail," he said. "This shouldn't be a place to be coddled, hugged or given contact. This is a penal facility in which you lose many rights. That's why it's a jail." :idea: Now that's an idea!
 

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Re: Sheriff limits visitors' contact No more hugs for inmate

WOW!! Imagine that...going to jail and actually being treated like and inmate? Astonishing. Can't wait to see the idiotic criminal responses to this one. "What do you mean I can't physically touch my baby...and insert some prepackaged-for-resale heroine?" "We have rights too!"

LOL!!!!
 

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Re: Sheriff limits visitors' contact No more hugs for inmate

Congratulations to Sheriff Goldis. I don't know the first thing about the guy, but this seems like a smart corrections decision. It is extremely difficult to catch a visitor bringing in drugs, let alone passing it off to an inmate. In these times, where our state correctionial institutions are so dangerously understaffed, it is only that much more difficult. Inmates can still have social contact, through glass and a phone, and contraband being passed during visits is nearly eliminated. Great move.
 

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Re: Sheriff limits visitors' contact No more hugs for inmate

Our union has supported Sheriff Glodis ever since he was a state senator!! He was a very out-spoken advocate for Public Safety because he used to be a correction officer. So you can pretty much say he walked the walk so he can talk the talk!!! This won't totally eliminate contraband but it will without a doubt put a huge dent in it. It's also too bad there won't be any hugging going on because i"m really broken up over it!!!!Ha Ha Ha!!!! Remember it's fu***n JAIL NOT YALE!!!!! Please post on and everyone remain safe!! :t:
 

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Re: Sheriff limits visitors' contact No more hugs for inmate

Good move by Sheriff Glodis, I applaud him for that. They are in jail...tough sh*t. The mother complaning that she misses the hugs from her son who robbed a store. Well...hmmm...oh well, if she did not notice he is in jail, not a daycare. They should just be happy they are not in a jail under Sheriff Arpaio's command in Arizona... :)
 

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Re: Sheriff limits visitors' contact No more hugs for inmate

boo hoo mommy cant hug her convict son. I am sure the store clerk who he robbed might have a different opinion about this clown. I think no contact is the best idea. Plate glass, and speaking through the phones is best. We used to search inmates after their visits, but the drugs would still manage to find their way in. I wish more Sheriffs would start to do this and eliminate contact visits. I am not aware on how the DOC handles visits.
 

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Re: Sheriff limits visitors' contact No more hugs for inmate

What no more hug a thug ? Do I see another Larry Dubois in the making? You go Guy Glodis.
 
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Re: Sheriff limits visitors' contact No more hugs for inmate

If his loved ones hugged him all along, he would not have grown up to be a bad boy. :cry:
 

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Re: Sheriff limits visitors' contact No more hugs for inmate

Bart,

I think the DOC handles visits differently based on the institution. When I was at Baystate at Norfolk for a day, it seemed they had a very open visiting room with soda machines, and chairs and tables. I'm sure some of the more high security facilities use the phone system etc.
 

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Re: Sheriff limits visitors' contact No more hugs for inmate

Walpole visits are incased in glass, But SBCC still has contact visits. I know nothing about medium prisons.
 
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