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Not Allowed Per Policy
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 05/22/2017

Contraband The following is an installment in "Operation Icebreaker: Shooting for Excellence", a series featuring "Ice Breaker's" designed to promote training awareness and capabilities in the corrections industry.

Policies and procedures are in place in order to enhance safety for staff, offenders, and the public. Yet, as is common knowledge, many prisoners will have alternate uses for items in order to make their circumstances a little more comfortable.

For example, dental floss is not allowed in many segregation units. Yet, those who have it smuggled in can make an efficient ‘fish line’ and move items from other cells. Despite the rules against passing, many prisoners will risk punishment sanctions in order to receive illegal items from others on the wing. And forbidden dental floss makes this possible.
  1. Break the class into groups of four or five
  2. Present a list of things forbidden in segregation units. Obtain one online from the policy directives of any correctional agency. The list can include any of these twenty-five:
    1. Belts
    2. Hangers
    3. Extension cords
    4. Cups
    5. Bowls
    6. Pens over three inches long
    7. Pencil sharpeners
    8. Athletic supporters
    9. Batteries
    10. Pad locks
    11. Paper bags
    12. Dental floss
    13. Squirt bottles
    14. Tweezers
    15. Typewriters
    16. Cassette tapes
    17. Hard sole shoes
    18. Thumb tacks
    19. Sunglasses
    20. Rubber bands
    21. Band-Aids
    22. Staples
    23. Paper clips
    24. Envelopes with metal clasps
    25. Needles or pins
  3. Have each group list why these items might be dangerous to staff and prisoners
  4. List top 3 dangerous items by group consensus
  5. List questionable items that are not forbidden, things that are not on the list but should be
  6. Have each group report their findings to the class
  7. Take the ‘big three’ from number 4 of this list and compare among groups
  8. Construct a class consensus on the three most dangerous items.
Everything has a use. Also, most things have many potential uses. This icebreaker and the twenty-four that accompany it in this book are designed to get students to think about the many dangers inherent in simple things. If we think about that, we can help keep our facilities safe for staff, offenders, and the general public.

Joe Bouchard is a Librarian employed with the Michigan Department of Corrections and a collaborator with The International Association of Correctional Training Personnel (IACTP). He is also the author of “IACTP’s Corrections Icebreakers: The Bouchard 101, 2014” and "Operation Icebreakers: Shooting for Excellence". The installments in this series include his opinions. The agency for which he works is not in any way responsible for the content or accuracy of this material, and the views are those of the contributor and not necessarily those of the agency. While some material is influenced by other works, all of the icebreakers have been developed by Joe Bouchard.

Visit the Joe Bouchard page

Other articles by Bouchard:


  1. JosephTobias on 03/07/2020:

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