Contraband in Prison

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INTRODUCTION

Each day in America, some of the most innovative minds are kept sealed in a box up to twenty-three hours a day, receiving only the minimum of basic human needs. Inmates have become some of the most notoriously ingenious visionaries in the modern world. From smuggling components into a facility to creating weapons made from paper, these individuals are constantly finding new ways to exploit the system to their benefit. Though there is seemingly an infinite amount of different types of contraband, the most commonplace items seized are drugs, tattooing equipment, electronics, and weapons. Contraband, as defined by US Legal, refers to property that is illegal to possess or transport. The Arizona Revised Statues define the promoting of prison contraband as a person, not otherwise authorized by law, who knowingly takes contraband into a correctional facility or the grounds of a correctional facility, conveying contraband to any person confined in a correctional facility, or by knowingly making, obtaining or possessing contraband while being confined in a correctional facility or while being lawfully transported or moved incident to correctional facility confinement (ARS 13-2505). While not all contraband seized in a correctional institute poses an immediate danger, it is essential that it be removed from an inmate’s possession to maintain order. ’Zero tolerance’ cannot succeed at its stated goal because human ingenuity (as well as human depravity) is unbounded and government resources are not (Gritsforbreakfast). As long as there have been prisons, there has been contraband; created from necessity or boredom contraband is a virus that cannot be fully eradicated. You can take an item from an inmate, but what is to stop them from fashioning another from the building’s structure itself.

ELECTRONICS

The California State Prison Solano houses some of the state's toughest criminals. They're locked behind bars, but that doesn't mean they can't communicate outside their cell on cell phones. The Department of Corrections says inmates use smuggled cell phones to deal drugs, plan escapes and order hits on other inmates. It's one of the biggest problems facing prison leaders: prisoners communicating with each other and the outside world via cell phones. The inmates aren't allowed to have them, but that isn't keeping some people from paying $300 to $1,000 a pop to get their hands on one. (Williams, 1979) The phones are found hidden inside food cans, cereal boxes, and deodorant and in the lining of care packages. Some of the phones are so small they are easy to hide behind electrical outlets, in plumbing and even inside someone's body. Richard Subia with the California Department of Corrections said cell phones are considered a big problem. "It's huge. When we first started monitoring cell phones, the first year we found a little over 1,600 to 1,700 cell phones in a whole year.  Last year we found over 2,800 cell phones and in 2009, the first six months, we were already over that 2,800 number," (Yamaguchi, 2009) Subia said. Subia says staff members are bringing the majority of cell phones into the prison gates. One guard admitted he made $150,000 just by dealing cell phones.  And he didn't break a law. California State Senator John Benoit said he was taken back to learn it was legal for the guard to sell the phones. He is now trying to change the law and make it a crime for anyone to supply inmates with cell phones. The bill would also extend prison time for inmates caught with one. "They need a law to make it a crime for both inmates and the wardens who supply them," Benoit said. His bill has passed both houses and will be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee in the next two weeks. Meanwhile, a federal bill is also being proposed to jam cell phone communications inside prison walls. While the lawmakers debate a solution, prison officials have moved forward with their own plan to catch the cell phones. It comes in...
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