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Westmoreland County to take custody of inmates’ shoes, hand out rubber slip-ons

March 18, 2018 GMT

Inmates at Westmoreland County Prison are losing their shoes.

Starting Wednesday, jail officials will implement a new policy that strips inmates of personal footwear as a precaution to keep drugs out of the lockup.

The county will issue inmates rubber slip-on shoes to wear while incarcerated.

“The inmates aren’t going to like this, but we think it is necessary to do,” Warden John Walton said.

The county jail held 649 inmates Monday.

Officials have become increasingly alarmed that inmates are smuggling drugs in via their footwear. Some suspected drugs are in liquid form and are attached to clear plastic strips glued into inmates’ shoes, Walton said.

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Last year, the county installed a full body scanner used on all inmates who enter the jail as part of an effort to stop drug smuggling.

The new shoe policy is the next step, Walton said.

Guards will go from cell to cell Wednesday to confiscate inmates’ shoes and hand out the rubber footwear.

“Their shoes will be stored with their other belongings and will be returned when they leave,” Walton said. “We’re just trying to find ways to keep the drugs out.”

The new policy won’t cost the county any additional money. The jail already has more than 600 pairs of the rubber shoes in stock, Walton said.

The rubber shoes will be cleaned and recycled for use by future inmates, he said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.