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Drugs in Prison

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Autor:   •  December 17, 2010  •  Essay  •  3,260 Words (14 Pages)  •  2,471 Views

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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]


Similar to the "free world" society, prisons also contain a society behind

the walls. Even though the men and women behind the walls are segregated

from the outside world, the same trials and tribulations you or I must deal

with each day are also dealt with by inmates. When looking at the reason

why inmates feel the need to escape from reality, the same reasoning factors

apply to those whom are not incarcerated choosing to abuse drugs. Low

self-esteem, the inability to cope with the crime or crimes committed that



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