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Religious book kiosks to be installed at Muscogee Co. Jail to reduce contraband

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 6:57 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - There’s a new solution to an ongoing inmate problem at the Muscogee County Jail.

Recently, the sheriff implemented an electronic mail system to eliminate contraband from being smuggled in. But, that also meant removing religious books like the Bible and the Koran.

One inmate wrote a letter to WTVM saying that he must have a bible and his life depends on it. A part of that letter reads in part:

Inmates at the Muscogee County Jail will soon use kiosks and tablets to read religious text.

“We want to make sure we don’t deprive anyone of their religious freedom,” said Sheriff Greg Countryman.

Countryman says eliminating papers, even legal letters is not about denying inmates access to their religious freedoms but rather to ensure inmate safety.

“We were having problems with mail at one while because of things that inmates were doing at the Muscogee County Jail with things that were coming in from the outside,” explained Countryman.

Sheriff Countryman says inmates were using sparks from an electrical outlet and paper like letters and pages from books to smoke inside their cells.

Former Muscogee County Sheriff, now Lieutenant Colonel over the jail, John Darr, gave us an inside look at how inmates will be able to access religious materials electronically.

These kiosks are located within every dorm at the Muscogee County Jail. Right now, inmates can do things like request commissary or file a grievance and pretty soon, they’ll be able to access the bible or Koran. Tablets will also soon be available for inmates to use.

Director of Religious Affairs at the Jail, Pastor Michael Sherman, provides spiritual counseling to the inmates. He says they can use the tablet to download text from a variety of religious beliefs.

“It helps to build them back to rehabilitate,” said Sherman.

Pastor Sherman says the inmates cannot email or download any other content on the tablets other than religious apps. He also says they have direct contact with him and can send him questions. He can respond and send them scriptures.

Right now there’s no definite timeline as to when the new information will be installed on the kiosks.

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