Secret inmate videos expose contraband crisis the state calls a ‘national epidemic’

(WSVN) - Drugs, weapons and cellphones inside Florida prisons. Videos secretly recorded by the inmates themselves are exposing the ongoing contraband crisis behind bars. 7’s Brian Entin investigates.

Inmate: “This is a crime scene right here.”

These videos are from inside Florida prisons.

Inmate: “Hey old school, you straight?”

Inmates passed out on the floor.

Inmate: “This is what a (expletive) looks like on mother (expletive) K2.”

They’re on camera smoking…

Inmate: “Hold it. Ten, nine…”

And bragging about having drugs behind bars.

Brian Entin: “How easy is it to get drugs in a Florida prison?”

Jacob Cherry, former inmate: “Every single compound I hit there were all types of drugs in there. Whether it’s prescription pills, molly, some spots it was cocaine and meth, but nothing more common than K2.”

Jacob Cherry, a former inmate, posted the videos to YouTube.

Inmate: “One, two, three, four flips.”

He says Florida inmates currently behind bars recorded the videos using cellphones smuggled inside.

The videos are graphic.

In one disturbing clip, water is sprayed on an inmate who appears to be convulsing on the floor.

Inmate: “You all right? Snap out of it.”

Jacob Cherry: “People are laid out on the floor not responding, and there’s no staff present. There’s no staff seeing this.”

The Florida Department of Corrections tells 7News they are aware of the videos, and the agency “…takes this information seriously.”

They call contraband in prisons a “national epidemic” and say corrections officers are diligent when they search inmates, but sometimes, it’s the officers bringing the drugs and cellphones inside.

Jacob Cherry: “The majority of the drugs that I know of that are coming inside are through the guards. When you’re not really making any money and a $30 phone on the street turns into a $1,200 phone inside a prison, a lot of people are going to do it.”

The state says in one year, about 12,000 weapons were found in Florida prisons, 36,000 grams of K2, which is a synthetic drug that can be laced with dangerous chemicals and almost 9,000 cellphones.

This is not our first time looking into the contraband problems.

Inmate: “You missing one thing, though. Where the machete at?”

In 2018, we discovered this video that showed an inmate pulling a machete out of his pants, and another inmate popping prescription pain pills.

Inmate: “Perc 10, man, to wash away the pain. You hear me?”

Brian Entin: “How did you get the cellphone in?”

Former inmate: “That was a long story there. I don’t really feel like putting it out there.”

State Rep. Bobby DuBose (watching video): “They don’t search the place?”

We showed State Rep. Bobby DuBose, D-Fort Lauderdale, some of the videos.

Brian Entin: “How neglected has the prison system been over the years?”

State Rep. Bobby DuBose: “Oh, man, I mean, I’m talking about not paying the officers enough, the infrastructure, the prisons are bad. I would say horrible.”

DuBose says the Florida Department of Corrections desperately needs more money to fix the problems.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has recommended $60.6 million dollars to boost pay and beef up staffing in prisons.

Right now, the starting salary for a correctional officer is $33,500.

Under the new plan, officers would get a $1,500 raise after two years and a $2,500 dollar raise after five years.

The hope is better pay will lead to better officers and less contraband.


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