Recent incident raises concerns about drug amnesty program at La Crosse County Jail
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Recent incident raises concerns about drug amnesty program at La Crosse County Jail

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A misunderstanding last week pushed La Crosse police and La Crosse County Jail staff to work together to improve the new body scanner amnesty program.

Christopher Malone mug


Police arrested Christopher Malone of Chicago for a no-alcohol probation violation April 19 and discovered 0.7 grams of marijuana and three e-cigarettes containing traces of THC, according to the police report. Police arrested him on charges of a probation hold, two counts of bail jumping, possession of THC and possession of cocaine, according to the complaint.

A deputy offered Malone amnesty at the La Crosse County Jail, and Malone surrendered 4 to 5 small bags of cocaine hidden in his underwear, according to the complaint.

La Crosse police objected because Malone has felony bonds for possession of drugs with intent to deliver and was already found with drugs during the arrest, but Malone said, “They already offered me no charges if I give them up,” according to the police report. A jail sergeant said he would have to honor the amnesty since it was already offered, according to the complaint.

Sheriff Jeff Wolf introduced the amnesty program in February during the body scanner unveiling. The scanner was introduced as a tool to help decrease the amount of contraband smuggled into jail.

Jeff Wolf


Amnesty would be given “if the arresting agency and the arresting officer are agreeable,” Wolf said, during the unveiling.

“There was a timing issue when amnesty was offered,” Wolf said, regarding last week’s incident. “In this case, the body scanner worked exactly like it was designed to do. Drugs were prevented from coming into the jail, which protects the inmates from harm and La Crosse County from liability,” he said.

La Crosse assistant police chief Rob Abraham


“The police department understands and agrees that keeping drugs out of the jail is important and the investment in the scanner is a great idea,” Rob Abraham, assistant chief of police, said. “Things didn’t go as planned, but we are happy the Sheriff’s Department has reached out to us to develop processes to prevent similar situations from happening again and allowing our staff to hold people accountable for their actions.”

Wolf reiterated Abraham’s commitment to “continue to work with law enforcement agencies in La Crosse County to update procedures ... not only (to) prevent contraband from coming into the jail but to assist law enforcement in their investigations as well.”


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