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:
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
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