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Arrest of PBSO corrections deputies shines light on struggle between jails and contraband

Arrest of PBSO corrections deputies shines light on struggle between jails and contraband. (WPEC)
Arrest of PBSO corrections deputies shines light on struggle between jails and contraband. (WPEC)
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Two Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office corrections deputies were arrested this week, accused of smuggling contraband into the county jail.

Deputies arrested Karl Kirkland and Jose Gutierrez, tied to an investigation that began last week after investigators screened a phone call from an inmate in the jail, allegedly discussing bring contraband into the jail.

CBS 12 News reached out to Gutierrez's attorney for comment. It is unclear if a defense attorney currently represents Kirkland and he appears to have not yet posted bail as of Thursday night, according to court and jail records.

"Correctional institutions unfortunately deal with it every single day," said Stuart Kaplan, a Palm Beach County defense attorney and former FBI agent. Kaplan is not connected to this case, but has clients in the jail and is often one of their few points of contact with the outside world.

Kaplan and West Palm Beach defense attorney Ian Goldstein explained that contraband is an issue across the country, adding that it is more prevalent in prisons -- which house inmates after conviction, rather than jails -- which typically house people awaiting trial.

"The lions share of the contraband comes in through guards," Goldstein added.

Correctional institutions also say that a significant amount of contraband comes in through visitors. A January release from the Florida Department of Corrections listed five separate instances in that month alone, in which a visitor attempting to bring contraband into a Florida prison.

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An February investigation by the Sun Sentinel found federal prisons in Florida are finding more contraband, including amphetamine pills, syringes, weapons, and particularly cell phones.

Both attorneys explained that authorized visitors at the jail (lawyers, faith leaders, etc.) must go through a metal detector and are subject to search. However, searches are randomized and could miss potential contraband.

"There is no reason that I would be compelled to empty my pockets or be subjected to a pat down," Kaplan explained when discussing the security screening he undergoes when entering the jail to visit clients.

CBS 12 News asked the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office if they were considering altering security measures in an attempt to catch more contraband. A spokesperson said they could not answer that question because of operational concerns.

"The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office holds its employees to the highest standards and never forgets about its duty to preserve the public’s trust. Unfortunately sometimes an employee makes a bad decision which leads to misconduct," PBSO said in a statement regarding the arrest of the correctional deputies. "The Sheriff’s Office will remain vigilant to insure that our efforts are professional and meet the high standards that the public has come to expect."

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