Contraband inside Prison System

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Contraband inside Prison System

How Contraband gets Inside Prison System

Contraband is referred to as any goods that are prohibited by law from being imported or exported. To prisons, anything that cannot be purchased in the commissary or that is not provided to them while at the prison is contraband (Moran 340). Contraband exists in various types that include weapons, drugs, homemade weapons, and whatnot smuggled into the prison in various ways. Contraband is a big issue behind prison walls and may be anything from a “homemade” shank by the inmate. The smuggling of these contrabands not only endangers the prison guards and other staff members, but also a threat to the other inmates in the prison. The existence of contraband in the prison poses some issues which include; how did contraband get inside the prison system, what are the approaches of preventing it amongst the prison, and what are the various forms of contraband found in the prisons? The essay will address these questions appropriately.


There are thousands of goods, objects, and other different things that are termed contraband when found in prisons. Assuming that one visits a certain prison and questions a correlational officer how many different kinds of contraband exist in the prison system, the question will sound humorous to the officer. Like defined above, contraband involves anything whose purchasing in the commissary is illegal and cannot be given to any person termed to be a prisoner on entering the prison’s premise. The most common prohibited objects, goods, and items in the prison include drugs, metal, weapons, jewelry, food items, and mobile phones. Also, excessive amounts of allowable property such as metered envelopes and postage stamps amount to contraband (Fitzgerald 1269). An altered item such as hollowed law book is termed as contraband in a prison environment. Also considered to be contraband are dangerous weapons such as razor blades that are melted by prisoners into a toothbrush handle.

A common contraband is alcohol. The inmates are capable of making their own beer in a fairly easy way. Prison wine famously known as “pruno” is made by inmates from oranges, sugar, apples, ketchup, fruit cocktail and other ingredients. The inmates use bread to provide yeast to the pruno that easily ferments the brew. The origin of pruno is prisons and jails where the inmates produce it easily, cheaply, and discreetly. The inmates easily make the brew using plastic bags, hot water, and a socks/ towel or clothe to hide the pulp during the process of fermentation.

Contraband is power for the prisoners for it allows them to gain power over the other inmates. Recently, cases of contraband getting inside prisons systems have been highly reported. The level of knowledge and creativity of prisoners when it comes to jail-made weapons is incredible. Prisoners have a lot of free time that makes them very idle. With this excessive amount of time under prisoners jurisdiction, they think of crafty ideas in which they can create weapons out of harmless materials such as Saran wrap. Saran wrap gets heated and melted by prisoners; they then shape it into a shank to stab another inmate or any correlational officer with them (Moran 348). There high level of knowledge and creativity makes them able to sharpen anything that can be used as a shank, whether it is a piece of metal, a plastic spoon or a nail/screw. Also, socks with batteries of rocks make it simple for these prisoners to create a weapon. Also, homemade guns are created in this way. Trust it or not candy bars are also bought into the prisons and used by inmates are weapons. Prisoners use this strategy as their surest way to creating weapons that they use for their personal security.


With the number of inmates growing, prisoners claim that getting drugs inside the institution is very easy. Necessity breeds ethics and invention aside, the ingenious tricks used by inmates in acquiring their stash are nothing short of impressive. Inmates have other people toss a packet over the prison walls into one of the exercise yards. The prisoners crowd around a newly arrived parcel, keeping officers unaware and before the officers arrive in adequate numbers they plug the goods (Moran 345). Plugging by inmates involves the aspect of hiding the recipient of the drug packet by stashing contraband in nature’s hiding place. In this way, drugs get into the prison system easily. The practice is even extended to homemade knives that are carefully padded and wrapped and to cell phones too. The inmates use cellphones delivered in this way to coordinate deliveries of other contraband goods.

Other inmates get contraband items inside the prison system vaginally. The technique is mainly used by women prisoners who insert food, drugs, and small weapons in their vagina. During security searches, no security officer is allowed to undress women and check whether they have inserted any contraband in their private parts. Cases of women inserting drugs into the vagina and smuggling them in the prison system have increased. The medical officers in the prison realize this when inmates are reported to overdose drug consumption while in jail. The most common smuggled drugs in this way are small pills (Leue 44). Other prisoners get contraband inside the prison system by getting their friends hides them inside the bodies of dead birds. These are thrown to them over the prison walls into the exercise yards where they easily collect them.

In an attempt to prevent contraband from getting inside the prison system, the prison management has to take certain security measures. The establishment of perimeter security is a sure approach to preventing contraband from entering the prison system. The regular security guards should not take control of the prison gates and parking lots, this need to be handed over to the state police (Burke and Stephen 10). Regular guards need to take guard of the perimeter security so that in case contraband is reported in the prison, they are accountable and answerable to an independent authority of prison officials. Also, the use of X-ray scanners like those airports use would contribute greatly in preventing drug smuggling in the prisons.


In conclusion, contraband is prohibited by law in prisons. However, inmates and smugglers get creative in the ways of getting contraband into the prison. The most common ways in which contraband gets inside prison system are the use of creative ways to make weapons, inserting drugs to the vagina, getting friends who throw to them drugs over the prison perimeter, stamps, and the making of illicit brew using the food items they are offered by the prison management. For the government to combat contraband from entering the prison system there is need to assign security guards on the perimeter fence as well as using of E-ray machines like those used in the airport to scan any contraband object within and without an inmates body.

Work Cited

Burke, Tod W., and Stephen S. Owen. “Cell phones as prison contraband.” FBI L. Enforcement Bull. 79 (2010): 10.

Fitzgerald, Erin. “Cell block silence: Why contraband cellular telephone use in prisons warrants federal legislation to allow jamming technology.” Wis. L. Rev. (2010): 1269.

Leue, William Macomber, et al. “Contraband detection system and method using variance data.” U.S. Patent No. 7,356,174. 8 Apr. 2008.

Moran, Dominique. “Between outside and inside? Prison visiting rooms as liminal carceral spaces.” GeoJournal 78.2 (2013): 339-351.

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