MASON CITY, Iowa – Currently, under Iowa state law, if you are brought into county jail for a serious misdemeanor, felony or aggravated assault, you have cause to be searched.
But soon, that may be changing, and it’s a potential change that could increase safety for inmates and staff.
Tim Lumley is serving a150 days in Cerro Gordo County Jail.
He’s been behind bars before, and the process of being striped searched is something he’s familiar with, and he also knows some other inmates, aren’t afraid to try and sneak items in.
“I’ve never smuggled in but I’ve been in cells when people smuggled in marijuana, cigarettes, or whatever,” said Lumley.
Lumley says being in a cell with someone who’s smuggled something in, makes him very uneasy.
“Yeah you get paranoid you don’t know if they’re going to use it on you so officers should do that on a regular basis,” said Lumley.
Right now, those at the Cerro Gordo County Jail will strip search you if you’ve committed a serious misdemeanor or if you’re a repeat offender who’s tried sneaking something in before.
Jail administrator, Shad Stoeffler, says you’d be surprised how often criminals try to do that.
“We almost see it weekly to be honest; we just had one the other day. Normally they got it taped inside their leg or something taped on the bottom of their feet,” said Stoeffler.
But if a new bill in the Iowa legislature passes, more people could be searched.
It would apply to those serving time for a traffic violation or simple misdemeanor.
Once you were to go to jail to serve the time for that crime and if you’re mixed in with the general jail population, and if the officer finds probable cause, you may be searched.
Stoeffler says this would be a great change for county jails across the state.
“I think its good for the jail, its good for inmates and it’s good for staff because one safety and security is our two number one things we do in the jail,” said Stoeffler.
And Lumley says it would help him rest a little easier.
“I think they should do that all the time, strip search, for their safety, and their doing their job. We’re doing our bad jobs I guess,” said Lumley.
Stoeffler says in their old jail facility, those arrested automatically went to general population cells, so strip searching was very critical.
He says that’s how it is in many other jails across the state.
Some examples of simple misdemeanors or traffic violations that you’d have to serve time in jail for: driving while suspended, theft, or public intoxication.