HUNTSVILLE, Texas (KTRK) -- The Texas Department of Criminal Justice seized hundreds of weapons and drugs and nearly 35 gallons of alcohol as part of a systemwide lockdown and search of all prison facilities.
TDCJ said the search, which was initiated last Wednesday, was aimed at addressing "a rise in dangerous contraband and drug-related homicides." The lockdown was lifted at 46 units, but 52 prison facilities are still under lockdown.
The amount of illegal narcotics entering prisons has increased over the last five years, impacting both staff and inmates, according to TDCJ. The state says it believes a majority of the 16 inmate-on-inmate homicides so far this year at Texas prisons were tied to illegal drugs.
The lockdown limited the movement of inmates and their contact with people outside prison facilities, in addition to requiring inmates and staff to "undergo intensified searches to intercept and confiscate contraband," according to the state.
Within the first few days of the lockdown, TDCJ said it confiscated "five water bottles full of a liquid substance that tested positive for K2, upon preliminary testing."
The state said it's also concerned about "a significant increase in paper soaked in K2 or methamphetamines coming into our facilities."
On Friday, TDCJ said it confiscated $376 as well as 196 cellphones and 274 weapons, which were "generally pieces of sharpened metal with fashioned handles."
It also confiscated illegal drugs, including amphetamines, fentanyl, cocaine, PCP, K2, and methamphetamine.
In an effort to stop drugs from coming into prisons through the mail, TDCJ launched a digital mail center, where all incoming mail will be sorted, scanned, and uploaded to a tablet for inmates to reach.
"These messages and photos will be scanned in color and can be saved to the tablet to be permanently available for the inmate to enjoy," according to TDCJ. "Inmates who do not have a tablet will receive black and white printed copies of their correspondence."
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