The Drug Accessibility in Prisons

Although visitors have become a large reason of how the drugs are getting into prison, they’re still getting in through the dishonest staffs who are not abiding by their job duties as police and correctional officers. Part of the reason that staff members are becoming part of this drug war is because it is so large and bring in such a large amount of money, plus they think because of their job title they will never get caught.

“The number of staff that have been arrested for drug use and or conveying controlled substances into the prisons over the past several years is so large that the system sometimes wonders if small time dealers have planned to work at these types of facilities to have access to the large market in prison” (Carrol, 1998). These drug dealers are working their way through the system to get their hands on one of the biggest drug wars going on in the world.

Just because someone has a college degree and seems to have good intentions wanting to work at a prison, does not mean they are not working within the system to get their hands on these drugs. The state of each prison trusts that their workers are completing their jobs appropriate and are not having any type of interactions with the inmates other than watching their daily activities and whereabouts. In January and February of 1996 alone, two officers were arrested for smuggling heroin into a prison, bookmaking and possession of a needle and syringe, and for possession of marijuana” (Carrol, 1998).

This being said, it makes employees wonder how they can trust their employers. Prisons expect to hire these guards to complete their jobs effectively and to watch for the safety of each inmate, but they are only making for a worse atmosphere when they are into the same illegal acts that the inmates are in. Society trusts prison guards to be doing their jobs and trying to prevent drugs from getting into prisons to help with the spread of diseases, but how can we trust the guards when over half are in the drug wars with the inmates?

“The greater the use of drugs in the community and the incarceration of the large numbers of substance abusers both created a greater demand for drugs in prison and increased the likelihood that staff had access to drugs and or vulnerability that could be exploited”(Carrol, 1998). The more drug dealers that are put in prison, the more drugs are circulating through the prison. The accessibility also greatly increases with the more dealers behind bars. They more popular of a drug dealer they are, the more sources they have to bring in their products.

People often wonder why a prison guard would turn to such illegal acts within their working environment. Some choose to work with drugs under the scenes to make a larger profit. They figure if they could make in five minutes inside the prison what they would make with a paycheck in two weeks, and have a little chance of getting caught they might as well do it. Some guards even start smuggling drugs inside the prisons because of fear of inmates. “Prison guards play a major role in smuggle drugs into the prisons.

Some argue that the control of drugs and other underground economies affect the relationships between guards and the inmates” (Arrigo, 2003). There actually are guards out there who fear for their lives and their families if they do not do as the inmates are told. If they live in this type of fear at work, they should not be working in a prison type environment. If working as a guard they cannot stand up for what they know is right, and fear reporting the inmate so they choose to smuggle drugs in for them they have no business working in a prison.

The guards are there to teach the prisoners right from wrong, not support their habits and needs while incarcerated. Even if a guard fears for his life due to a prisoner, they should follow the chain of commands in the prison and report this type of occurrence to the warden. “Officers have reputations for selling drugs, a fact that is regularly communicated through the prison grapevine. Occasionally, an officer will approach the inmate to offer drugs, but more frequently an inmate who wants to “make a buy” makes the fact known to the officer” (McShane & Williams, 1996).

The inmates usually approach the officers because if the officers were caught approaching an inmate they should be in a lot of trouble. The officers are the inmate’s source of smuggling the drugs therefore they do everything they can not to get the officers caught in the process of making deals. The inmates become aware of who is involved in the drug smuggling by other inmates. Different levels of prevention methods have been used in prisons for quite some time to prevent drugs from entering inside the bars.

Different prevention methods being used is equipment like cameras, dogs, and scanners, and “the inmates they are subject to random drug tests, as well as regular searches of the inmates and premises”(“Drugs in Prison”, 2005). If an inmate tests positive for a drug they will be transferred to a maximum security prison, and will receive additional charges for their drug use. Many inmates test positive for drug use while in prison which makes their sentences even longer. The more intelligent the inmates get, the more upgraded the methods need to get to catch up with the drug smugglers.

“When entering a federal prison, the visitor will be asked to sign in and put their belongings in a locker. Anything they bring with them will be x-rayed and may be scanned for drug residue” (“Drugs in Prison”, 2005). These actions are not taken by people they suspect to bring in drugs, but they are taken with every visitor. It is not to offend the visitors, but to protect the staff and all inmates within the prison. These measures have to be taken to prevent the chances of people bringing drugs into inmates. If the systems can help prevent these methods from happening, they will do everything they can to do so.

With the greater amount of drugs being smuggled inside prisons, the “greater the use of pat searches of visitors, better use of staff and camera monitoring, and the restriction of contact visits for some inmates” (“Easy Access to Drugs in American Prisons Drug Policy News”, 2003). Prisons have to start taking these precautions more seriously because the number of drugs in prisons and the number of diseases are spreading throughout all of them. If there is a way for visitors to get the drugs into a prison they will find it.

Eventually it may come down to no visitation at all for inmates except their lawyers. The inmates should be happy they have the advantage of having visitors, but so many are taking advantage of this luxury that one day they may stop the visitors all together. Then the only source of drugs would be the staff members, and hopefully in time they will be prevented as well. “The prison systems have come up with two new units specializing in prison investigations. One is called the SIU, which focuses on the inmates and cultivated informants.

The other unit is the Internal Affairs, which focuses on staff, which is managed my ex police officers and worked closely with the state police. If an inmate is caught in an investigation by the SIU, they might provide the investigators with the information they need leading to the surveillance of a staff member by Internal Affairs. Just like information received from the IA may help lead to surveillance of a particular inmate or group of inmate” (Carrol, 1998). These units are used with the investigators to try and work their way down the pole of who is the main lead to the drug dealings throughout a prison.

The more inmates they catch doing the drugs, the more of a chance the investigators will figure out who is the lead dealer to the drugs because the inmates do not want to face a larger prison sentence. The investigators may work with them if they are willing to talk to help find the main smuggler. Investigators have to work together to catch the main dealer, before they can work at catching each person using. As long at the source is out there and the inmates have access, they are going to continue using. The investigators are allowed to use drug-sniffing dogs and cameras in their investigations to catch who all is involved in the drug wars.

“In close custody facilities, cameras are discreetly placed in the visiting areas in such a manner as to permit easy and close-in monitoring of all visitors. The rooms where inmates are strip-searched after visiting are electronically monitored to ensure that officers assigned this onerous task carry it out properly. The cameras are so powerful that one can read a paperback book being read by an officer at a table in the visiting area” (Carrol, 1998). These methods of prevention are taken to try and stop drugs from getting inside the walls of prisons.

These cameras come in use to help not only with the dishonest workers, but with the inmates doing their illegal acts as well as visitors. The more powerful the camera, the more it will catch the inmates doing that the guards are unable to do. The accessibility of drugs in prisons has gotten so large in the last few decades that investigative units have been made to try to solve these issues. Drugs are getting smuggled into prisons by visitors, guards, and other inmates very ones own high, the money, or because they had to act on a threat.

A majority of the inmates in prison that carry the HIV/AIDS virus were injection users of drugs. Most inmates who inject the drugs share their needles with other inmates, which is how the drugs spread. Visitors are even going as far as swallowing a balloon or condom full of drugs and then regurgitating it once they get into the prison visiting area. Staff members are bringing the drugs in usually for an extra profit for themselves. The accessibility of drugs in prisons will not stop until the prisons figure out who the sources are that are smuggling the drugs behind prison gates.

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