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Specific: One of the nation’s most notorious prisons – New York City’s Rikers Island – is seeing an “all-time high” number of drugs being smuggled through the mail, as corrections officials consider safer alternatives rather than the risk of potentially fatal exposure. We do.

The New York City Department of Corrections holds an average of 5,678 inmates in its seven facilities. Its largest complex and one of the largest municipal prison systems in the country, Rikers Island, consists of 10 separate units and has its share of controversial history.


Recently, the Department of Facility and Corrections overall has been grappling with an influx of serious drugs, such as fentanyl, being smuggled in as mail or by other means.

Video obtained exclusively by Fox News Digital showed stacks and boxes of books and pieces of paper that were allegedly soaked with fentanyl or other diluted drugs and intercepted by corrections officials, a source familiar with the matter said. told Fox News Digital.

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In the video, corrections officers are seen “standing next to boxes of books that have been found to be covered in fentanyl, where entire books are covered in the drug,” the source said.

“You see the officer thumb through every page that is contaminated with the drug. And every page can be used for prisoners to smoke or inhale or burn or use for a banned substance – buying and selling, The source added. “There are boxes literally piled on each other with the same number of books as the officer has.”

Officers are seen in the video pointing to what they call “discoloration” in parts of the pages of the books that were sent to the facility.

And documents obtained exclusively by Fox News Digital offer a glimpse of some of the examples in which corrections officers are facing drug-filled mail.

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In one example, from September 7, Recurse Eric M. Inside the mailroom at the Taylor Center an officer was “searching a package” and discovered four “books soaked in an unknown fluid” who later tested positive for fentanyl. , according to a memo emailed to DOC employees and obtained by Fox News Digital.

Documents show that officers also face similar prohibitions in the form of just one or a few sheets of paper.

Screengrabs of video obtained by Fox News Digital show a plethora of mail allegedly contaminated with drugs.

In a separate instance at the Taylor Center, officers in the mailroom were inspecting a package on September 14, when they found a “letter soaked in unidentified liquid”. According to the document obtained by Fox News Digital, the letter later tested positive for fentanyl.

The DOC system includes seven facilities in four of the five boroughs, in addition to its massive Rikers Island complex, which is in East Elmhurst, New York.

During a New York City Board of Correction meeting on September 13, officials addressed the issue, describing their efforts to stop the spread of drugs entering their facilities as “a priority for us.”

Entrance to the Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center on Rikers Island.

Speaking about how drugs are playing a role in the deaths of inmates in DOC custody, Paul Schechman, deputy commissioner of legal affairs and general counsel for the Department of Corrections, said the issue is “very important to us.”

“You see a lot of fentanyl entering either through the mail or through the package,” he acknowledged.

He said the agency is “exploring” the ability to “scan mail and send it to prisoners via tablet”.

Fox News has learned that as of Tuesday, DOC personnel had recovered more than 4,000 weapons and more than 700 drug-related banned substances during tactical searches inside the facilities.

Interior of a solitary confinement cell on January 28, 2016 in Rikers Island, New York.

Meanwhile, as of Wednesday, 15 prisoners have died while in DOC custody since early 2022. The agency said that a prisoner died recently on Tuesday. Prisoner deaths are often, though not always, associated with drug use.

The NYC DOC did not respond to multiple requests from Fox News Digital for on-the-record statements about other options for entering its facilities and delivering mail via mail.

The local corrections officer’s union has long been asking inmates to scan the mail and send it to prisoners electronically on tablets they already have.

Benny Bossio, president of the New York City Correction Officers Benevolent Association, told Fox News Digital that the Department of Corrections “has a big problem with drugs coming through the mail.”

Rikers Island facility on June 6, 2022.

“We’ve been saying for quite some time that they should move to a paperless system. Prisoners have tablets… They have tablets. So why can’t they get their mail on tablets?” Bossio said on the phone on Tuesday. “It would stop so much.”

The amount of drugs coming into facilities via mail is at an “all-time high”, he added. He said his office is “in talks” with the DOC and the mayor’s office on the subject.

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“They’re taking, let’s just say, a 400-page book and soak that book in fentanyl so that the book is completely soaked in fentanyl,” Bossio said. “It’s mailed to prisoners, and now that prisoner has basically 400 pages of fentanyl … that they can basically do their drug transactions in facilities.”

A security fence surrounds the prisoner housing in Rikers Island on March 16, 2011.

He continued: “We build bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers, but we can’t fix broken cells on Rikers Island? We can’t come up with technology to stop paper mail?”

And it poses a “major risk” not only for prisoners, but for drug-sniffing K9s and corrections officers tasked with inspecting mail, who are already working on less than normal staffing numbers. are, he said.

Boccio added: “We want everyone to be safe – we want prisoners to be safe, and we want our corrections officers to be safe.”