State prison officers admit not even the highest walls can keep illegal drugs out of New York's correctional facilities, but they are taking action. In the four-part series, "Battling Drugs Behind Bars," Seth Voorhees will take an exclusive look at how prisons are attacking the problem. In part two, get a glimpse at how corrections officers and state police are stepping up efforts to keep drugs out of prisons.
Dan Styczynski works day-to-day with his canine partner, Doc, sniffing out drugs outside of New York's prisons.
"Every day, when the visitors come in, we try to do as many cars as we can, to try and deter it. Let visitors know we're here," said Styczynski.
The effort outside Attica Correctional facility is part of a renewed effort to keep drugs from getting to the inside.
"The majority of drugs that come into facilities are smuggled in. It comes in either visitors or the mail," said Styczynski.
When someone comes to Wyoming Correctional facility's visiting process center, they're greeted by drug-sniffing dogs like Doc.
"We actually find a lot of drugs: heroin, marijuana, cocaine, synthetic marijuana," said Styczynski.
All driven by the fact that there's a big market for it, behind bars.
"It's worth a lot of money in jail, so obviously to get it in, it ups the value," said Styczynski.
With help from the New York State Police, the number of K-9 units used for drug and contraband detection inside and outside New York's prisons has doubled in the past year.
"I would say 70 percent of my job is drug-related," said Trooper Chris Neidert. "We travel around the state, attend the prisons on the weekend. We go into visitation, they have bags of stuff that we'll go through."
In the last year, the dogs alone are credited with more than 200 instances of finding contraband which led to more than 100 arrests.
"The rules continually change. Our department is being proactive. We're going after it as hard as we can," said Styczynski.
State prison officials acknowledge a startling jump in the number of overall drug confiscations in recent years.
"That might be also with the increase in the number of investigators brought into the narcotics unit," said Neidert.
A recent indictment in Wyoming County named 10 people, five of them prison visitors, in three separate conspiracies to bring drugs inside prison walls.
DOCCS encourages visits between inmates and family and friends, believing it will help those on the inside better adjust once they're back on the outside, but it also opens up another can of worms.
At Wyoming, several layers of security lead visitors to a large room. Imagine 400 inmates and visitors in one room with just six corrections officers there to watch them. Figure the odds.
"It's a game I don't like to lose, and if you get past me, I've lost that round," said Styczynski.
Which is why DOCCS is trying to get ahead of the game; one that's admittedly tough to win.
"I don't think it's ever gonna stop. They're always gonna try and find different ways to bring it in, and we're always gonna try and stop it, no matter what we can do," said Neidert.