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COs exposed to fentanyl, other drugs while searching mail

New York Department of Labor report directs prisons to make mailrooms safer and provide better protective equipment to reduce drug exposure


Correctional Officers need better safeguards to prevent drug exposure when opening and processing inmate mail.

AP Photo/Pat Sullivan

By Fernando Alba

Marcy, N.Y. — The state Department of Labor has found that correctional officers at two Central New York prisons were exposed to fentanyl and other drugs while at work.

A department investigation found officers searching incoming mail for contraband in the Marcy and Mid-State correctional facilities in Oneida County were exposed to suboxone, synthetic marijuana and fentanyl, which could be deadly in some cases.

The Mid-State facility had one incident in 2021 that required an officer to receive medical attention outside the prison after the guard was exposed to a substance while searching mail, according to the state’s report issued Nov. 18.

Prison officials did not implement safeguards to prevent officer exposure, according to the report. The state issued 12 safety citations for Marcy and seven for Mid-State.

[On-Demand Webinar: See smuggled drugs and contraband in inmate legal mail, without opening it]

The state directed the prisons to make mailrooms safer and provide better protective equipment to reduce drug exposure.

The state’s corrections department has taken some measures aimed at making mail handling safer, the union representing correctional officers in New York said.

One program blocks people from directly mailing or delivering packages to inmates. Packages must be sent by third party vendors instead. The program has been implemented in all of the state’s 44 prisons, the union said.

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