Sheriff: Indiana inmate knocked hole in jail wall to smuggle tobacco

ANDERSON, Ind. (WISH) — The Madison County sheriff says an inmate knocked a hole in the jail wall and tried to sneak tobacco inside.

An Anderson Police officer spotted a makeshift rope outside the jail late Wednesday and called the jail staff.

They searched the jail and found a hole knocked in the wall in one of the cells.

“It’s not really a surprise,” Sheriff Mellinger said. “We’ve had these attempts since 1986. It goes back that far that inmates were able to figure out where the weak points are in the walls.”

Less than a year ago, officers said they caught a man trying to scrape his way out of the jail. A few months later, they said someone knocked a hole in the wall to smuggle drugs.

Each inmate is offered a broom so they can sweep their cell. The sheriff said, to make the hole last week, an inmate unscrewed the broom handle and jammed it into a brick.

“It’s mainly frustrating because the infrastructure is such that it doesn’t make it terribly difficult to do,” Mellinger said.

According to Mellinger, two inmates worked together to toss a rope through the hole. Someone outside the jail tied a bag of tobacco and lighters to the rope. On the way back up, the bag stuck to barbed wire.

A security camera captured the whole thing, Mellinger said.

The sheriff said the jail is 32 years old. He said his team stopped about six similar attempts last year.

Some of the bricks are lined with metal, but not all.

“For this particular jail, I think the inmates have found it easier than they would have at most jails,” Mellinger said. “I believe that, until the county decides to build a new jail, we’ll continue to see these types of trafficking attempts.”

Mellinger said he can’t release the names, photos or security video of the suspects yet.

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