in Houston, Texas
Prison employees get light punishment for smuggling contraband into Texas prisons: Chron
Saturday, Mar 14, 2009, 09:26AM CST
By Jennifer Peebles
Remember the death row inmate who apparently wanted state Sen. John Whitmire on his Friends and Family calling plan? Two reporters from the Chronicle, Lisa Sandberg and Matt Stiles, have sorted through five years of disciplinary records for employees in the state prison system to see what all kinds of flotsam and jetsam has been smuggled into Texas prisons.

AUSTIN — Knives and drugs, cell phones and smokeless tobacco. Even McDonald’s hamburgers.

Texas prisons were a virtual bazaar of prohibited and illicit goods smuggled in by guards and correctional employees who rarely faced harsh punishment when caught, according to a Houston Chronicle review.

Nearly 300 employees, many lowly paid correctional officers, were reprimanded for possessing prohibited items at 20 prison units with the most pervasive contraband problem between 2003 and 2008, records show.

Along with the list of confiscated stuff, the Chron staffers found that employees generally just get a wrist-slap when they're caught.

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