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Drugs in the Prison System

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    How Can Illegal Drugs Be Prevented From Entering Prison? The American prison system has many different interpretations. Some people think it is a place for rehabilitation. Others may feel it is solely a punishment for making bad decisions, and there are those who see it as a method of revenge. Regardless of how the prison system is viewed, one element that may be a shock to everyone is the use of illegal drugs by the inmates. There are also a surprising number of unpublicized deaths among the inmate population due to drug overdoses that could have been prevented.

    The public deserves answers to many question such as: How are illegal drugs infiltrating the prisons? How are inmates creating their own substances? What is being done to prevent drugs from coming in to prisons? Answering these questions will provide a bigger picture of the ongoing and growing problem of substance abuse within the prison system, and the knowledge to discuss potential solutions. Although inmates are housed in prisons for crimes against society, it is law enforcement’s responsibility to ensure their safety and that the illegal temptations of the outside world do not breach the prison walls.

    How Are Illegal Drugs Infiltrating the Prisons? Prisons are designed primarily to keep people inside, and less focus is placed on what is coming in. Regardless of the emphasis, the expectation of a facility that has full control over the population should be a drug free environment. However, drugs and other illegal contraband find their way inside undetected. There are many ways illegal drugs are introduced into the prison population. The article I read about on good “How Common Are Drugs in Prison”? refers to friends or relatives of an inmate who bring in drugs as “mules”.

    Some visitors try to conceal the illegal drugs on their person, or even inside their bodies to escape detection. Other ways of hiding contraband is inside food and beverages as well as the mail system. Due to the lackadaisical efforts of some prison guards, these methods are often effective. Selling drugs in prison can be a very lucrative business. So much so, that the inmates and the mules are willing to take the risk of getting caught, because of the high financial reward if successful. In some instances, inmates stand to make up to “$7000. 00 per week dealing heroine”.

    The profit margin is higher in prison due to the high demand, and the increased risk of getting caught. Another way that drugs are being brought into the prisons is through corrupt prison guards. In one particular case, a prison guard was arrested because he planned to smuggle cocaine, marijuana and hydrocodone pills to inmates for a payoff of $2,500. There is no excuse for guards taking bribes. However, due to the lack of pay, training and screening, it should not come as a total surprise when prison guards give in to the temptation of increasing their income for looking the other way or bringing contraband inside the prion themselves.

    Furthermore, it is the prison gangs that control the majority of the drug trafficking inside prisons. Gang members who are incarcerated already have their drug networks established on the streets, and they use those connections to get the drugs inside the prison. Often times, instead of drugs, cell phones are smuggled inside the prison so the inmates can set up the “drop off” and “pick up” of the drugs. The prison drug trade is also the cause of the majority of the fights that occur in prison.

    Rival gangs battling for control, or a drug deal gone badly eventually leads to violent physical aggression. The instances of drug use and the smuggling of contraband in prisons are staggering. California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation claims to have seized about 5,000 contraband cell phones in 2009, and had roughly 1000 drug incidents, including 44 deaths from drug overdoses by inmates between 2006 and 2008. In the state of Florida a random drug test of inmates in 2008-2009 came back positive on 1,132 inmates for illegal drug use.

    Officers also seized 2,832 grams of marijuana and 92 grams of cocaine. Until it is decided that the drug problem in prisons has reached perilous levels, and in need of a complete overhaul and an increase in funding, the numbers will continue to climb if unchecked. There will be a time, if not already where it will be impossible to eliminate the infiltration of illegal drugs in our prison system. How Are Inmates Creating Their Own Substances? There is another way that an illegal substance is being used in prison.

    The difference in this drug is the fact that it is created by the inmates in their cells. Alcohol is a drug that most prisoners can make with the materials that are accessible in a majority of prison environments. The recipes are very basic while at the same time “creative” due to the settings the inmates are in. Some of the names for the inmate created alcohol are: “juice, jump, raisin jack, brew, chalk, buck, hooch, and pruno”. The consumption of homemade alcohol by prisoners is such a habit of the culture of incarceration many wardens have accepted it as part of the system.

    The recipe is very basic and can always be changed depending on the circumstances. In order to be successful, a prisoner needs to get their hands on are fruit, a plastic bag, sugar and water, all items are readily available in the most cafeterias or from visitors. In some cases dinner rolls are used in the mixture for the yeast content. The ingredients are mixed together in the baggie and left to ferment in the cell toilet to avoid detection. After a few days, the process is complete and the prisoner can now get quite intoxicated.

    There is also documented evidence that some prisoners used hand sanitizer in the mixture due to its alcohol content. The sanitizer was distributed throughout the prisons in an effort to combat the H1N1 virus. Once prison officials discovered what the sanitizer was being used for, they quickly removed the product. It is surprising to know that prison officials who are armed with this knowledge tend to look the other way in some cases. The smell of fermenting fruit is quite hard to miss, not to mention having to deal with an intoxicated inmate.

    Prison officials need to address stricter methods and standards in order to provide a safe drug free environment. What is Being Done to Prevent Drugs From Coming In To Prisons? The severity of the drug problem within the prison system gained the attention of President Bill Clinton in 1998. The president issued an executive order that will require prisons to meet certain standards in order to qualify for federal funding. These standards were well received by prison officials. However I read on google that Joe M.

    Hill, director of the Arkansas Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Prevention challenged “the key to implementing new policies will be resources…We’re already underfunded and now we’ve got another population prison on top of the existing ones that’s a mandated population”(Joe M. Hill). The above mentioned executive order was issued in 1998. Today, the problem still exists and is getting worse. Are the prisons so far gone that they can’t be fixed? In the current disorder state of the world, there is no relief in sight for our crumbling prison system.

    It is important to understand that degrading prison conditions, combined with gang drug activity, overcrowding, and violence go hand in hand. The worse the conditions, the greater the violence. In conclusion, it is going to take a firm commitment and a lot of money to exercise the demons out of our prison system. However, more than that, it is going to take a commitment to the inmates, and the realization that the way we treat our prisoners is a direct reflection on our society as a whole.

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