This research paper will consist of an analysis of the use and abuse of illicit drugs within the prison systems on a global basis. With information gathered from various sources such as the internet and one on one interviews with an inmate in a male correctional facility and a former inmate of a female correctional facility I intend to show the rampant flow of drugs in and out of the prison system, the control of (or lack there of) by prison officials, the drug gangs and dealers in correctional facilities, the rate of addiction, and treatments available to inmates suffering from addiction.
The introduction of drugs into the prison system has been an issue for corrections staff for many years. Prison officials suspect inmate visitors are the main source of how drugs coming into prisons. Although inmates and visitors are subjected to a meticulous search prior to contact with one another, the introduction of drugs is happening on a regular basis. Drugs can become a major source of income, not only for the inmate, but also for the individual or individuals who take the drugs into a correctional facility. Another avenue for inmates is using a correctional officer. Most of the drugs that are available within a prison arrive by courier through a corrections officer. Unlike an inmate visitor, a corrections officer is not subjected to a meticulous search of their person and property. Stephen Shaw of the Prison Reform Trust was quoted as saying, " Prison officers were said to turn a blind eye to its use and even to deal it in themselves, to make their job easier."1
Several states within the United States allow for inmates to have possession of personal clothing. An inmate receiving personal clothing from home may also receive drugs that have been hidden within the clothing by a family member or friend. In addition, drugs have been
known to be sent via the mail to an inmate concealed in packages of all natures. In the past, the distribution of heroin to an inmate was easily concealed on a postage stamp or on the glue part of an envelope. The use of drugs are an issue many people around the world must deal with while incarcerated or in the "free world."
Throughout the history of prison reformatories inmates have constructed a mailing system within the prison to communicate with one another. Most of the communication between one inmate to another is conducted verbally. This helps to avoid having any physical evidence of wrong doing available to corrections staff. The introduction, transportation, and sale of drugs within a prison can result in another felony charge for an inmate. Many inmates use commissary items such as coffee, sugar, and other items to conceal the requested drugs. For example, by handing another inmate a cup of coffee a correctional officer does not know if there are drugs within the cup unless the officer physically handles the cup. Drugs can also be passed from one inmate to another by physically putting into the inmates handle as discreetly as possible.
There are several questions that have been asked over the years regarding inmates and the use of drugs, such as how is it easier for an inmate whom is under constant supervision by correctional staff to have easy access to drugs, why do inmates feel the need to escape from the reality of prison life and why are existing drug addicts not receiving treatment for their drug abuse? Several studies have been conducted worldwide delving into why inmates are using drugs while incarcerated. The authors of an article in the British Medical Journal (BMI) researched this very issue. They did a study on 548 men at Durham prison in Elvet, England. All of these men were awaiting trial. The study found that prior to sentencing many inmates were using drugs. Specifically "...57 percent were using illicit drugs, 33 percent had problems of drug dependence, and 32 percent had drink[ing]...
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