Sheriff responds after large amount of contraband seized from Alcorn County Jail

CORINTH, Miss.-- The Alcorn Regional Correctional Facility is on lock down after a raid uncovered more than 100 cellphones, charges and even shanks.

Lock down means no visitors are allowed, no television, commissary or phone usage is allowed.

This isn't the first time the facility has come under fire.

A new Sheriff pledged he would try to get things under control when he came into office last year but so far that seems to be a challenge.

According to the Mississippi Department of Corrections, more than 100 cell phones, chargers, headphones, bag after bag of tobacco and more than 20 bags of drugs believed to be crystal meth, spice and weed were all confiscated on Wednesday from the Alcorn County Regional Correctional Facility.

"You would think that’s a disciplinary and not like living in your home," said Carol Knight who lives in Alcorn County.

The Mississippi Department of Corrections seized the items Wednesday in a random shakedown.

They said cell phones hidden in the ceilings fell while officers searched, they also found stashes behind TVs, garbage cans and an employee’s desk.

They said one inmate even tried to hide his cellphone by laying on it.

TSheriff Ben Caldwell said he was surprised by the amount of contraband discovered.

His staff does searches every day, often finding cell phones and tobacco.

Caldwell, who took over last year, promised to be proactive.

The jail previously made headlines for a lawsuit where an inmate alleged he had been pepper sprayed by guards in the groin area.

There were also cases of escaped inmates.

Caldwell said his office reached out to the state months ago requesting their department be searched.

"This was a random inspection. We knew they were doing random inspections. Didn’t know when they would get to us," he said.

Speaking to WREG by phone because he was out of the area, Caldwell said part of the problem is a lack of manpower and low salaries.

"You know when they’re offering to pay an officer $200 to bring in a phone, you know $200 is a lot of money for a person that makes $9 an hour," he admitted.

Caldwell said background checks are already in place but said since the shakedown they’re looking at new ways of checking employees when they arrive for work.

Caldwell said two correctional officers were arrested in 2016 for taking contraband into the jail. A third was also arrested for having a controlled substance in their vehicle.

So far no employees have been charged after this latest shakedown but the investigation isn’t over.