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E.V.I.L. Origins: How Did the Contraband Get In?
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 07/04/2011

Cockroach What could be more evocative than thoughts of an infestation? Imagine that you are battling vermin, determined to rid the area of unwanted pests. In this sense, it's easy claim victory if you catch the mouse or other pests. But does that go to the heart of the problem? Is that true elimination or merely short-term management?

When we eliminate the nest or the avenues and inside, we have found a more thorough solution to the problem. Likewise, every bit of contraband that we remove from the system represents a win against the collective of dangerous elements that we face on the job every day. For example, discovering a cache of tobacco in a smoke free and chew free institution eliminates some illegal trade in possible violence. But we must wonder how the tobacco got inside the facility in the first place.

No matter the custody level, age, or physical layout of your facility, it is safe to say that some contraband filters in undetected. In a way contraband management is like pulling weeds. One can temporarily halt the weed (or contraband problem) with one quick yank. It is as simple as pulling the item out of circulation and ensuring proper disposition. However, we can further delay the return of contraband by digging deep at the root. Really, there are four basic ways that contraband enters our jails and prisons. It is something I call E.V.I.L. origins – a mnemonic that means Employee, Visitor, Inside, and Let in.

Employee – As corrections professionals, we wish that staff corruption did not exist. Unfortunately, a small percentage of our colleagues dabble in the illegal trade. Whether bought, maneuvered, or coerced, employee mules in the service of offenders deal a grievous blow to the structure of security.

Visitor – Most people who have do not quite grasp the reason for so many rules in the operation of a correctional facility. Despite this, many visitors each day comply with instruction from staff. However, as with employees, there are a small number of visitors who circumvent the rules and introduce contraband into the facility.

Inside – The origin of some contraband items is completely within the fences. Some things are created with ordinary, on-hand items. They include papier-mâché clubs, plans on the yard with medicinal qualities, or even spud juice. Something of value need not necessarily have come from outside the walls.

Let in – This is a large category. Contraband that is let in is hidden from detection as it enters the facility from the outside. This can be as nefariously clever as small bits of narcotic laced crayons used to create a drawing that is sent through the mail. The hollowed legal brief is a popular vessel as well. Camouflage arrows filled with drugs and shot into the yard is a strange but documented occurrence. Let us not forget the cell phone that escapes detection in a new commitment’s anatomy.

What does all this mean? With the knowledge of contraband sources we can better predict where the next nest of bootleg may lie. However this should be tempered with patience and realism. In other words, it takes time and will not always uncover all dangerous and tradable goods. Concept of evil origins helps us consider sources bootleg. Realistically we cannot stop all sources of contraband. But every bit removed from the system means a win for security.

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