WV enlists law enforcement leader to thwart correctional drug contraband, abuse
enlists law enforcement leader to thwart correctional drug contraband, abuse
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A career law enforcement officer is stepping up West Virginia’s
crackdown on illegal drugs in its prisons, jails and juvenile facilities,
Military Affairs and Public Safety Secretary Jeff Sandy announced Thursday.
Sandy has named Jack
Luikart as the department’s Director of Correctional Substance Abuse Control. Luikart
will target the smuggling of contraband narcotics, help train correctional
officers and staff on drug prevention and investigations, and work directly
with young adult inmates and high-risk juveniles, among other roles.
Luikart retired in February
from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department after 30 years of law enforcement
service. For much of that career, Luikart focused on drug crime. He was
repeatedly assigned to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, including as
group supervisor of the Charleston High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HITDA)
Task Force from August 2015 until his retirement. He also commanded the Putnam
County office of the multi-county, multi-agency Metro Drug Unit for nearly a
“We are very
fortunate to be able to add Jack to our team,” said Deputy Secretary Thom Kirk.
“His vast experience with drug enforcement coupled with his passion to protect
and preserve the youth in this state against the devastating effects of drug
abuse makes him an ideal fit in our global plan to fight drugs throughout West
Virginia. I know of no one more respected by law enforcement and no one more
knowledgeable about our drug problems than Jack. The outstanding work he has
done for Putnam and surrounding counties can now be applied to the entire state
of West Virginia. We are excited about his decision to continue to assist his
West Virginia’s Department of Military Affairs and Public
Safety includes the Division of Corrections, the Regional Jail Authority and
the Division of Juvenile Services. These agencies operate 26 facilities among
them that house nearly 11,000 adult inmates and around 280 youths.
The menace of contraband
smuggling is long-standing, ever-present and rapidly evolving. Thwarting this
danger to public safety is particularly critical as the ongoing opioid crisis
challenges correctional facilities nationwide. The continuing threat of funding
cuts, spending freezes and budget instability by the Legislature has complicated
West Virginia’s situation. Among other measures, West Virginia recently started
providing only copies of non-lawyer mail to inmates after repeatedly finding
drugs hidden in the original letters, photos and envelopes.
Luikart will coordinate
such efforts while developing new strategies. He will also adapt a program he
developed while in law enforcement that aims to educate at-risk youth and young
adults regarding the devastating effects of substance abuse.
“I look forward to working
with our corrections personnel to develop and implement strategies to combat
the smuggling of contraband into our facilities, as well as to providing
training and personal experience to our correctional officers to assist them in
their efforts,” Luikart said. “I also look forward to working with our at-risk
youth at our juvenile facilities and our high schools to provide them with true
facts in regard to the consequences of drug abuse. Working together, we can
help to curb the cycle of drug abuse in our state.”
Luikart’s focus will
complement West Virginia’s push to increase substance abuse treatment and
recovery programs for offenders. These include the prison-based Residential
Substance Abuse Treatment units, which expanded to the regional jail system
last year. Through its widely praised Justice Reinvestment Initiative, West
Virginia awards grants to health care providers who offer community-based inpatient
and intensive outpatient services to offenders returning to society.
Luikart took up his post
earlier this month. The position is possible through unfilled vacancies in
Corrections. All correctional agencies will contribute toward his salary to
keep the department within its current personnel budget.
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