The Prison Drug Economy is Going Strong

Despite attempts by correctional officials, the supply of drugs in prisons keeps growing to meet the demand. It is no secret that America’s prisons are teeming with illegal drugs, fueling addiction and abuse. The situation has gotten so out of control that the acting head of the New York state prison system asked prisoners to refrain from smoking Marijuana and K2, which are easily available in New York’s prisons.

Getting Drugs into Prison

It is very common for prisoners to get their connections on the outside to give drugs to a guard they have already agreed to do business with. The guard makes a good amount of money for just taking the drugs into the facility and handing it over to the prisoner. It is just as likely that the correctional officers are addicted to drugs and are dealers.

A few years ago, a wellness education officer at a Florida state prison strayed beyond his job description and had been planning to smuggle cocaine, marijuana and hydrocodone pills to inmates for a payoff of $2,500, before he was arrested. Similarly, a Field Lieutenant in Texas was arrested for manufacturing methamphetamines in his home lab, and it was suggested that he had been dealing the drugs he made to his colleagues.

However, officials blame visitors for the majority of drug deliveries in prisons. A visitor who brings drugs, known as a “mule,” will smuggle it in inside a body cavity. Some prisons have installed X-ray machines, drug-sniffing dogs, and metal detectors, but there are still ways to get drugs in – hidden in food, for example. One inmate’s girlfriend replaced olive pimentos with red balloons of heroin, and another hid drugs inside a re-sealed jar of peanut butter. Drugs have even been found secreted under the cheese on a pizza.

How to Solve the Problem?

Perimeter Security

This is the key to stopping drugs entering prisons. It has already been established that prison guards are part of the problem and therefore shouldn’t be in charge of perimeter security. Also, prison staff must agree to having their cars searched at any time within prison property, without cause or a warrant. This might at least slow down the smuggling of drugs into prison.

Installing X Ray Scanners

This would go a long way towards stopping the smuggling in of drugs. As long as visitors and even guards are able to get away without being scanned, they can carry drugs in body cavities and bring them into the prison quite easily. Visitors are not searched vigorously because studies have shown that prisoners who are in regular contact with their friends and family do better in prison. However, this only makes it easier for them to bring in drugs for the inmate.

According to a Bureau of Prisons report, drugs are present in almost all federal prisons. The strategy of stopping the supply of and reducing the demand for drugs has not worked. Unfortunately, with the many problems of the prison system itself and the willingness of outside friends and family plus the guards to supply the drugs, the issue is unlikely to be resolved any time soon.

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