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Battling Contraband from Outside the Secure Perimeter
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 08/20/2012

Watercooler 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 physical 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 physical 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.

Corrections.com author, Joe Bouchard, writes and presents on many corrections topics. He is a Librarian at Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility within the Michigan Department of Corrections. He is also a member of the Board of Experts for The Corrections Professional, Editor of The Correctional Trainer and MCA Today, and an instructor of Corrections for Gogebic Community College. You can reach him at (906) 353-7070 ext 1321. He is also the author of three books including "Icebreakers III," the third in IACTP's series of training exercises books.

These are the opinions of Joe Bouchard, a Librarian employed with the Michigan Department of Corrections. These are not necessarily the opinions of the Department. The MDOC is not responsible for the content or accuracy

Visit the Joe Bouchard page

Other articles by Bouchard:


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