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Columns: The Contraband Control Support System

January 1st, 2013

Contraband control and architecture are two seemingly unrelated concepts. The former entails the removal of illicit items from a highly supervised space. The latter is the art and science of building. On the face of it, they are unrelated. Yet, they are both alike in that they have a scientific, methodical base. Both, when done correctly, involve planning.

But, one can appreciate the beauty of a structure and forget about the plan. In other words, before beautiful bridge in creation can be crafted, a useful plan must be in place. For example, a visually striking bridge is not a complete success in the architectural sense if vehicles or people cannot efficiently cross it.

Is your contraband control process beautiful on paper? Does the practical output measure up to the beauty of the plan? Contraband control is like architecture in that all of the artistry in the world cannot overcome a deficiency in practical application. Let’s apply an iconic architectural element to contraband control.

Column – In the vocabulary of architecture, this is a vertical support. In contraband control, columns are the supporting staff that search or aid in the search for bootleg. Contraband control columns support a variety of weights in order that the figurative roof of order does not fall in. Here are some of the roles of the columns:

1. Data compilation - Some are data collection machines such as hearings officers who have documents from misconduct reports. Staff who compile their misconduct reports also serve in this role.
2. Data dissemination - Another column is the disseminator of information. This is a hub in the information network, spreading news of smugglers and smuggling methods. A disseminator of information does not necessarily have to be in the same facility. A good example of this is the property officer from another location who keeps you abreast of new and unusual bootleg finds through emails.
3. Education - Training offices offer another sort of support. With contraband-based exercises in the classroom, they engage the professional in the search, bringing practice and theory together.
4. Media education - Writers (or, if you will, columnists) contribute to the contraband control literature. Offering a perspective that may not be found in a particular facility, they provide food for thought for professionals in the quest to mitigate the contraband –driven peril in correctional facilities.
5. Search - Line staff who conduct routine searches are another column. They stem the tide on the battle field by sweeping areas clean. It is a labor-intensive job, but remains as a very necessary column.
6. Administrative facilitators -Supporters in administration remove barriers for the search. They make searches a priority and acknowledge finds. Administrative supporters of contraband control provide tools and time necessary for search and allow staff to try new methods and techniques. To this group, contraband control is not just a common practice; it is a dynamic tool for safety.

Just as marble columns continue to provide age-old support on classic structures, contraband control columns keep the roof from falling in. Without these columns, any facility is a more perilous place. Never mind how these columns appear on the face of it. Consider their practical and crucial functions.

joebouchard Contraband Control

Six contraband control concepts

December 15th, 2012

Contraband control is a topic that is fundamental to the safety of all in any correctional facility. Below are six concepts that may help place contraband as a whole in perspective. Above all, knowledge of contraband control in general will keep staff, offenders, and the public safer through vigilance.

Contraband is everywhere. From Alaska to Florida, bootleg will be found. Neither climate, nor region, nor jurisdiction will keep illegal items out of prisons and jails.

Contraband items are similar in every type of facility. You will find like items in the tiniest lock up to the largest maximum security facility. If you gather corrections professionals from all varieties of institutions, the stories will be fundamentally the same. Certainly, there may be more cell phones or tobacco in certain types of institutions than others, but both of these forbidden items exist in all types of corrections settings.

Contraband is dangerous, no matter the type. Obviously, a facility-made knife is sinister. There is no question of its utility. But, corrections professionals need to remember the little things, as well. A tiny stick of chewing gum can disable a lock. A staple can frustrate the efforts of someone accessing a door. The common betting slip, a seemingly innocuous piece of paper, is really a representation of the tip of the iceberg for violent transactions. All contraband had potential for danger because of what some offenders will do for to obtain and retain it.

There are many ways to thwart the ill effects of contraband. Battling contraband begins with the notion that the search is so much more than just stumbling upon a bit of bootleg and taking it out of circulation. The search can be a multi-step proposition augmented by technology and careful documentation. At its highest level, crime mapping methods can be utilized.

Cooperation and coordination tie it all together. The positive potential of our pooled knowledge and efforts is astounding. Searching one area multiple times does not address less frequently searched areas. Staff communication is the oil for the search machine. Methodical searches in all areas over the different times of the day will always reveal more dangerous items than serendipity.

Experience rules the mitigation of contraband. A crucial ingredient in any recipe for contraband control is the experience of staff. Old tricks recycle and old hiding places come and go out of vogue. It is true that new items and different twists may be added to the long list from year to year. However, it is the veteran contraband hound that recalls the concepts and removes the dangerous items.

May your facility be safer through contraband control.

joebouchard Contraband Control

Contraband searches: Proactive and reactive

December 1st, 2012

Q. Will you find anything significant when you trace the origin of a particular contraband item?

A. Sometimes.

A contraband find is useful because we remove an illicit item from circulation. The bottom line says that the facility is just a bit safer because the item is out of the loop. Yet, we can look deeper for clues of other enterprises. It is often profitable to trace the origin of the contraband in order to see if it is linked to a larger enterprise.

Sometimes, we begin a search as a reaction to conditions. At other times, we plan to search a certain area of our own initiative. There are two categories of search. They are the Reactive Search and the Proactive Search. Both are useful in their own turn. Here are examples of each:

• Stumble upon – This is where one where one literally looks down and sees a dropped or discarded item. For example, you spot a cigarette butt on the walk in a facility that has been smoke free for years. The item can be in the open as intentionally abandoned property.
• Serendipity – For no reason at all, you decide to look in a trash can and find gambling slip. This is finding something en route to looking for something else. It can be likened to finding a handful fo change in your couch while seeking your television remote.
• Reaction to missing items – Large can lids are missing from the kitchen, for example, and the facility staff is assigned to find them.
• Informant information – A reliable source tells you of a spud juice enterprise.
• Anonymous information – An unsigned missive warns that there are shanks in a certain general population unit.
• Suspicious suspects - Two known security threat group prisoners are observed passing law books to one another in a furtive manner. Past behavior indicates that there may be instructions for a disturbance in the book.
• Patterns - Succession of bathroom breaks for many people in the same area prompts vigilance. The pattern raises a red flag.


• Routine search – It is the day to thoroughly search the commons area.
• Routine book search – It is law book delivery day and you proactively search all incoming and outgoing books in order to find evidence of communication and commerce.
• Commissary – It is one day after store day repayment of favors and bets will likely occur.
• Future traffic – The daily schedule indicates that there will soon be a successive flow of prisoner traffic and you sweep the area clean of any planned drop-and-pass items.
• Just after major events – The Super Bowl was on last night and you are prepared to remove unofficial tender from circulation

Knowing why we conduct the search as we conduct it may point to the origin of the trade. A simple delivery of a few Jolly Ranchers may be the tip of the iceberg in a gambling empire. Jolly Rancher wrappers may just be a case of littering.

Of course, just like the search itself, determining whether we conduct a proactive or reactive search may not mean a thing. Circumstances will dictate this. We may end up with no new information at all. Still, the important thing is that we continue the search and employ both reactive and proactive strategies as necessary.

joebouchard Contraband Control

It’s nothing personal: Seven reasons we commit to contraband control

November 17th, 2012

It is interesting what you may stumble upon as you search for other things. For example, I discovered news of a French Canadian alcohol smuggler from the 1890’s called “Notorious” Bouchard. For me, it inspired visions of ancient trunks with bootleg concealed within. I learned this from the publication The Quebec Saturday Budget - Jul 30, 1892.

As a Bouchard, I took notice of the last name. Also, I am very interested in contraband – though I prefer to eliminate it, unlike the contrabandist “Notorious” Bouchard from years past.

If you have read this far, I ask that you excuse the personal musings. The point is: part of your mission or professional quest might be tied to personal reasons. Allow me to point out that my quest for contraband control is not predicated on personal reasons. My resolve to enhance safety has nothing to do with the illegal actions of someone who shares my last name from 120 years ago. True, the story of “Notorious” Bouchard is interesting and ironic to me. However, it is not crucial for my quest. In other words, I search for contraband for a variety of reasons that are NOT personal.

As you review the list below, think of what motivates you to sweep illicit operations from your institution. Professionals motivations typically fall under the large category of safety. Some of my motivations are:

1. Leveling the playing field – Let’s face it. Offenders have ample time to craft new ideas for concealment of valuable but illegal items. A comprehensive contraband control program is the antidote to this. We pool our professional resources to thwart the pervasive trade that chips away our secure foundation of security.
2. Investment in the now – It is crucial to remove dangerous items immediately. Taking contraband out of the system is important for immediate safety.
3. Investment in the future – Think about how a small enterprise can grow. It is like pulling small weeds now rather than letting them flourish and overtake the legitimate plants in your garden.
4. Keeping colleagues safe – We have each others’ back. Safe colleagues mean capable colleagues. Colleagues who recognize threats to security and deal with them increase safety in an upward spiral of success.
5. Keeping offenders safe – Part of most agencies’ mission statements include the safety of prisoners. We strive to maintain order by removing contraband - the building blocks of illicit power.
6. Keeping the public safe – The unseen, unthought-of of shield of corrections keeps dangerous elements off the streets. Although the public may not think of our profession often, we are at work all of the time to fulfill our mission.
7. Drawing the line – When we issue misconduct reports on contraband issues, prisoners see where we draw the line. What we remove from the system indicates our collective intolerance for specific items.

It was reported that when “Notorious” Bouchard was captured in 1892 in Quebec, he inebriated and abusive. His actions may have been inspired by monetary gain, fame, and perhaps the influence of a distilled spirit. The only thing that we have in common is a surname.

Horse thief, bank robber, and moonshiner. If you shake the family tree hard enough, a less-than-reputable figure is likely to tumble out. Whether or not I am related to him, my mission remains the same. My actions to mitigate and eliminate contraband in my corner of corrections ultimately fall under the important category of security for staff, offenders, and the public.

joebouchard Contraband Control, Dear Reader

Searching outside the comfortable eye level zone

November 11th, 2012

Lessons in nature are often humbling. For example, a friend of mine who takes early morning walks began to worry about cougar sightings in our area. As time went on, she relaxed, having seen no large cat. I asked her if she looked up in the trees, as cougars are expert climbers. She visibly shuddered at this possibility. It shattered her false sense of security. But, that is a consequence of looking outside the comfortable standing eye level range.

Consider the ceiling and the floor. Have you ever wondered if there is something hidden above ceiling tiles? Does an inconspicuous molding or ceiling tile hide bootleg? Do you ever wonder if there is a place of concealment on or just under the floor?

These are questions that we should ask ourselves as we search for contraband. If we ponder those points, we can begin to conceive different levels of concealment. We need to think of the nefarious ends that a full-time contrabandist may employ by hiding things outside of the eye level range.

Often, movement within the facility allows us only a quick visual scan of a room. This cursory glance can range from table top to just above eye level – perhaps three feet to six feet. Even when we have the luxury of time to conduct a thorough search, we should consider the range outside of eye level. Here are a dozen thoughts about searching outside eye level:

1. Imagine the concealment strategy of a seasoned contrabandist. Thinking “outside the box” is like thinking outside of the range of standing eye level. Enterprising smugglers know that not everyone consistently searches outside of the comfortable range of standing.
2. Crouching can be uncomfortable. It is easier to stand. Contraband hidden below standing eye level is more likely to remain concealed.
3. Check out base boards, floor molding and other ornamental aspects of a room. Is anything loose that should not be loose? Can small items be hidden there?
4. Are any rug tiles pulled up at a corner? Is there something small and potentially dangerous hidden under your feet?
5. What is happening below chairs, tables, shelves and counters? Is anything affixed with an adhesive bandage, naturally made glues, or tape?
6. Most of us do not naturally look up at the ceiling. Hiding something above the standing eye range is another way to hide in plain sight.
7. Heat rises. Prison made alcohol can better ferment above ceiling tiles and on top of shelves and cabinets than at eye level.
8. Looking up at a high shelf that is a foot deep is not the same as getting eye level to that top shelf. A pen shank can blend in easily if it is where the high shelf is fastened to the wall. Also, the weapon is more difficult to detect when it is the same color as the caulk.
9. There is some comfort in the different levels of expertise in contrabandists. Many are sloppy opportunists that do not necessarily think outside the standing eye level. This is a false comfort. A small but significant percentage of creative offenders recognize our standard search patterns and use them against us. It is in that group where the greater danger often lies.
10. Look before you touch. Use of a mirror assists in hard to see places. If you cannot see an area and need to sweep it in order to search, do not use your hand, even if it is gloved. Rather, use a small piece of cardboard.
11. The covert search is usually preferable when you search difficult to reach places. With no prisoners present, you are secure to concentrate. While standing on a chair or while crouching, you are more vulnerable than when you stand firmly on the floor.
12. It may seem obvious to look up and to look down. However, it is not normally that simple. Test yourself for a week. How much you look beyond standing eye level when you are at work and when you are in the public?

Unseen hazards can be just out of sight. Think of a cougar in a tree. Looking up and looking down is more than an exercise in rote movement. It can be a way to preserve the balance of safety in your institution by searching outside the normal visual field.

joebouchard Contraband Control

The manipulative power of candy

November 6th, 2012

Manipulation is all around us. Corrections staff know this well. Students who aspire to work in the corrections profession should know this vocational fact. That is why I wrote this exercise.

And it is not just inside the walls of a correctional facility. Print and electronic media are chock full of examples of companies and individual trying to get you to buy a product or endorse a candidate. Some deem it persuasion. Others may call it marketing. Whatever its name, it is all about convincing others to do your will.

Often, an instructor’s design is to turn the floor over to the students and allow them to buttress points in the lesson with their own personal experience. Yet, classroom participation is always a challenge. Even when one had a room full of extroverts, there may be slow days and pervasive quiet. Every facilitator will eventually come to the conclusion that sometimes we need to bribe in order to get results.

Let’s not elevate this to the point crossing into the realm of impropriety. I am simply suggesting that a little treat goes a long way. Do not underestimate the manipulative power of candy.

This classroom exercise needs very little in terms of preparation. All that is necessary is a talking point for the group. In terms of materials you will need a small bag and a few pieces of candy each for every participant. However, inside one of the bags will be placed an unobtrusive marker of some sort. This could be a number written inside or in the bottom of the bag. Or, one could put a quarter or an index card in the bag.

First you introduce your concept. For example if the topic is manipulation or persuasion:

“Once, I was vacationing in Florida. I remember that as a time when many people used strong persuasive measures on me. Their goal was to sell me a time share. They matched me with a sales person who seemed to reflect my demographic. This sales person brought in a parade of “supervisors” who used concepts like family values, economic value and luxury. They also included a tour of a resort, discount tickets to a local theme park, a breakfast and steadily drop in the price of the time share. The price literally dropped thousands of dollars during the course of the two hour presentation…”

Then you tell the class to think about a time where they recognized someone trying to convince them. Let them know that their example can be subtle, blatant, or even ham-handedly ridiculous. It does not even have to be a direct contact – a commercial or pamphlet will do. I found that telling each student to write some notes on an incident of manipulation in which they were involved works well. Give them a few minutes to do so. When each person reports, they have notes.

Then, present each person with a bag of candy “as a gift”. Of course, the person with a marker on the bottom or inside of the bag will be the first person to report their example of manipulation. This exercise is like a lottery or winning a door prize when you have a number taped under the seat that you randomly select.

When the first person has related the tale of handling, she or he is told to select a “volunteer” from the class to go next. This fosters a bit of playfulness and empowers speakers to appoint someone the instructor may not have selected. And it goes on. The good news is that everyone gets the sweet gift of candy and some or all can support the lesson with tales of their own.

As tales are told, the instructor can write a one or two word descriptor of the style of manipulation used. Of course, some will see the exercise as manipulation. Spoiler alert: It is manipulation. In fact, do not be surprised if someone reports that a time they were persuaded/manipulated was when this classroom activity started.

The timing of this can impact the effectiveness. For example, conducting this before lunch or in mid afternoon might yield better results, as the incentive for a snack is greater at those times. Directly after lunch is not necessarily a good idea, as the classroom may be too bloated to enjoy a treat.

I conducted this exercise for the first time during a Criminal Justice/Corrections class that fell on Halloween. All of the simple gift bags had a few mini candy bars within. One of those bags had a small, plastic snake in keeping in the spirit of the holiday.

Before I field tested this, someone suggested that I add a note in one of the gift bags that said “you are my favorite student.” This, she reasoned, would give a lesson in division and favoritism. In the post mortem, the student who randomly selected the bag with the message admitted that he felt manipulated when he read it. In other words, his radar was on. It was noted that he chose the bag quite randomly. However, this introduced a classroom talk about how favoritism is a form of manipulation.

The cynical and untrusting may unfairly label this as exploiting a weakness for sweets in order to force participation. I prefer to think of it as fostering a willingness to share in the education process by using universally beloved confections. And if you think that this is manipulative, we can talk about it over a snack.

joebouchard Training

Contraband is contraband

October 28th, 2012

Offenders come and go, but the shared goal of contrabandists is pretty much constant: To use goods and services to enhance power and personal comfort while incarcerated. Following are six points to ponder.

Contraband is contraband. As you consider the following, remember that though something looks innocuous, it may be part of something larger. Danger is possible through a chain of events or associations. The potential for peril is not lessened because of staff perceptions of “little, nuisance contraband”. Contraband is contraband, no matter the style, immediate apparent value, or size.

Is an item innocent? For example, though gum and pop containers are clearly not shanks, they are potentially dangerous. Chewed gum, applied correctly, can disable locks. Soft drink containers can store noxious, intoxicating and/or disgusting liquid agents. Corrections staff should remind themselves from time to time that everything has a use.
Watch your trash. That which we throw away can be used to compromise the safety of those that we work with rather than those that we watch. Proper disposal of items that we take for granted is crucial. Remember the seemingly innocent often is not.

Ingenuity is alive and well. Here is another uncomfortable corrections fact: If we can conceive it, offenders can probably create it. If we can imagine a simple candy box turning into a weapon, then some weapons-smith somewhere is doing it right now in some facility. The deodorant container, for example, may contain deodorant. Then again, it may not.

Out of sight does not mean out of danger. Consider the lock in a sock. If combination and padlocks were to be removed from the permitted property list, an alternative would be found. Out of sight might mean out of mind. But out of sight does not mean out of danger. Peril exists, no matter how many restrictions are imposed by policy. Just because an item should not be in the facility does not mean that it will not be hidden for another time.

Be realistic. It is best that we apply another contraband control law: “Staff should remain realistic.” The realism of contraband control is important to retain. There’ll always be danger, no matter how well we search. Staff who believe that we’ll find everything in each and every triumphant sweep are bound to become discouraged. This is not to cast a negative shadow over the concept. It is, however, a way to honestly assess the general nature of contraband control.

Collect and remember ticks played upon us. If we do not remember where new concealment tricks, we ultimately make our task more difficult later. While we will not find everything, it is up to us to look, record, and eliminate future bootlegging opportunities.

An example lies in prison-made alcohol. It is no secret that some offenders will constantly try to cook spud juice or its inebriating cousins under our collective nose. On the face of it, these enterprises should be easy to find. But, realistically, we are often surprised by the clever manner in which the hooch manufacturing was concealed.

Staff do battle every day to keep facilities safe from contraband traders. Every contraband control trick we learn is valuable, even those we stumble upon a due to a poorly executed plan.

In the end, the contraband search can be very tedious and very difficult. However staff members that are vigilant, tenacious, and realistic will pull enough bootleg out of the system in order to make the facility safer for staff, offenders and the public.

joebouchard Contraband Control

Food service staff as partners in contraband control

October 1st, 2012

Food service staff in correctional facilities have the awesome responsibility of ensuring that quality meals are prepared and delivered to hundreds of people. This happens three times a day, all year long – regardless of the state of equipment.

But, in this relentless preparation of meals for hundreds, there is a potential for profound danger. This comes in two basic forms, barter and weapons. This double threat can be common in the kitchen area. Quite simply, there is a huge potential for the contrabandist in the food service area. Because of this, food service staff are important partners in contraband control efforts.

Food as barter. Food and items acquired from the kitchen can be used as barter. Food can be used as contraband, mostly in the way of trade for other goods and services. Extra rations can be promised by prisoner workers in exchange for protection, sex, as a payoff for gambling, etc. There are also many raw materials in the kitchen that can be used to produce prison-made alcohol.

Kitchen weapons. Materials to create weapons often originate from the kitchen. They can be made from discarded cans, altered equipment, and packaging. There are many other opportunities to acquire weapons. Staff patterns are scrutinized by enterprising prisoners to discern the perfect occasion to loosen unessential steel or plastic. If it moves, it will dislodge. If it dislodges, it is a weapon. The kitchen is not free of hazard.

Like other non-custody staff, food service staff perform three particular roles in contraband control. They feed the information machine, relate tales of contraband to newer staff, and monitor the work patterns of prisoners on assignment in the kitchen.

Even in this busy and potentially dangerous part of the facility, food service workers are inherently security-minded. They can be valuable as intelligence gatherers. The observant food steward sees who dines with whom and notes who no longer dines with whom. Also, prisoner kitchen worker dynamics can be interpreted. All notable occurrences should be reported to other food service staff, officers, and up the chain of command. Also, those food service workers with institutional intuition can share feelings of uneasiness.

Effective food service staff seek and report contraband in order to keep a safe area of control. Maintaining a strong presence and employing overt and covert searches accomplishes this. It also includes cooperation and rapport with custody staff and the inspector.

Contraband control is a difficult and sometimes lonely task. If the ultimate goal is to maintain a safe institution for staff to work and prisoners to live, then all staff should participate actively in this vital duty. Contraband control is not just for officers. The more staff that assist in this, the safer the facility will be.

joebouchard Contraband Control

The overt search for contraband

September 8th, 2012

Contraband is everywhere. Whatever the form or amount, it is always potentially dangerous in a correctional facility.

An important instrument in the fight against contraband is the physical search. In its most basic form, it is a visual inspection of the any area of control. Two kinds of searches are overt and covert searches. This is a choice that will depend on the circumstance.

During an overt search, staff are not masking the fact that they are looking for contraband. It is not a stealthy sting. The overt search is meant to be seen by prisoners.

The overt search has many benefits. Among them are:

Impression. The overt, or the open search. is partly for show. If you want to allow prisoners to see that you are taking part in the actual search, the overt search is best. It may be that staff will want to paint an obvious picture. The message is that they intend to keep the area clear of items intended for illicit trade. If one prisoner sees the prominent display of examination, then it is likely that the prison grapevine will inform others of such. Overt searches can be timed for peak prisoner traffic times. The desired result is that news of the search will disseminate.

Deterrent. Prisoners may abort or suspend future plans for hiding or trading contraband in a certain place if they see staff combing the area regularly. The well-watched area is not the place to risk valuable goods. The overt search may serve as the inspiration for prisoners to remove well-hidden contraband from the area.

Serendipity. There is always the surprise of finding something unexpectedly. And, the overt search might just produce a clue to some other institutional mystery. By looking for nothing in particular, staff might unearth something that helps solve a riddle that has plagued the inspector for some time.

There are many cautions to consider when employing the overt search. Sometimes it just is not appropriate for staff to make prisoners aware of the search. For example, there may be a danger in prisoners knowing that staff will search a particular area. Or, an obvious search may thwart the time and effort invested in a lengthy investigation already in progress. If stealth is more appropriate for the situation, the covert method of search is preferred.

Also, those that use the overt method should not just go through the motions of the shakedown. If you are searching, you should actually look. You should not pretend to inspect.

Adept prisoners may be able to see through a feigned search. If it is believed that the search is just for show, some may challenge the level of scrutiny. They may test the thoroughness of staff by planting something with little value (sacrifice contraband) in an obvious place. After the overt search, they would arrange to check if the planted item was disturbed.

And, prisoners may reason that if an overt search has been performed, it may take a while before the next time the area is scheduled to be examined. They may believe that areas are not necessarily searched randomly, but in a rigid order.

Despite the cautions surrounding the overt search, it is still an important corrections tool. Any search is time and effort invested into institutional safety for staff and prisoners. Searches for contraband are indispensable in the workday of all corrections staff.

joebouchard Contraband Control

Battling contraband from outside the secure perimeter

August 11th, 2012

The fundamental safety tactic of contraband control is part of everyone’s duty. You don’t have to wear a uniform or be inside the secure perimeter of the facility in order to assist in the security of the institution.
Those working outside the secure perimeter can assist in the battle against the adverse effects of illicit goods.
While those outside the secure perimeter cannot fully participate in the psychical search for contraband inside, they can perform three particular roles in contraband control. They can feed the information machine, relate tales of contraband from earlier phases of their careers, and look at the work patterns of prisoner porters.
Feed the information machine. Assisting in intelligence gathering is easy. Mailroom staff are ideally positioned to do this. Staff may receive or intercept correspondence from prisoners that contain nuggets of information. This knowledge would be routed to the inspector.
Tales of contraband. Some staff working outside of the secure perimeter have corrections experience inside. They are acclimated to how some prisoners may move illicit goods. They may even be aware of specific older prisoners in the system. Staff who formerly worked within the secure perimeter know of the many possible unauthorized activities through experience. Also, cautionary tales and other accounts of contraband can be told for the benefit of newer staff. On the face of it, this does not appear to be as helpful as the actual psychical search. But, talking about contraband to newer staff assists in getting them to think about what could happen.
Watching prisoners. Those outside the gates should scrutinize the patterns of the prisoner porters. Contraband travels between levels of custody and institutions. Lower custody level prisoner porters in your work area may be vehicles for bootleg. They are not exempt from analysis. Ask yourself, does one prisoner porter clean the staff bathroom then another porter enters that bathroom immediately? Is this place a drop and pass location? Is there a loose floor molding or hand dryer that could serve as hiding spot for contraband?

Non-custody staff outside the secure perimeter can be of great value in identifying and reporting contraband movement patterns. Their intelligence gathering can lend the information necessary to stop dangerous enterprises. In doing so, they make it safer for staff, prisoners, and the public.

joebouchard Contraband Control