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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.

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