Abstract 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 Elves, 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] problems.' 2 Similar to the 'free world's 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 caused incarceration and the deterioration of family relationships are just a few of the reasons inmates use to turn to the use of drugs. At one point in time the high percentage of men and women who are drug abusers were a minority in the prison population worldwide. In 1998 Paul Turnbull explored the prison population and found ."..
30% of prisoners in the United Kingdom, two thirds of the prison population in the United States, and 25% of probation and prison population in Sweden are believed to be dependent drug users (Turnbull and Webster 1998)." # Studies have also found that inmates with previous drug abuse history are in fear of punishment when requesting treatment. Inmates who need to have drug treatment do not receive any assistance as their fear of punishment is overwhelming thus causing inmates to continue with their drug behavior. The drug treatment options available to inmates varies on the country in which the individual is incarcerated. The major treatment activities or programs offered within the prisons systems of twenty-six countries are information on drugs, harm reduction advice, detoxification, substitute prescribing, abstinence-based program, psycho-social help, self-help groups and relapse prevention. The abstinence-based program, also known as the therapeutic community (T. C.
), is the most widely used drug prevention and treatment program found in prisons around the world. The concept of T. C. is to segregate the inmates who request drug treatment or are court ordered to be in a drug treatment program from other inmates. The theory in the T. C.
program is segregation from the rest of the prison population is necessary in order to keep the negative aspects of prison life away from the inmates who are in treatment as the prison atmosphere works against drug treatment in several different ways. During my research of drug abuse within the prison system, I interviewed a current male inmate confined in the Washington State Department of Corrections. His name is Jay. 3 He is thirty-five years old and has been incarcerated for the past eleven years. When I asked him about the use of drugs within the prison system here is what he had to say: Q. How many in institutions have you been in? A.
I have been incarcerated in eight different institutions over the past eleven years. Q. In your opinion is drug use and abuse a problem in America's prison system? A. No, I do not believe drug use and abuse is a problem in America's prison system. I don't condone the use of heroin, methamphetamine, or cocaine but marijuana does not cause fights or violence within the prison.
The use of physiological drugs prescribed by physicians within the prisons are having the same affects on inmates as does heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine's. Q. Are drugs a major factor in violence in the institution? A. Sometimes, depending on the situation. There can be territorial beefs between different individuals. Such as the white boys who usually have crystal (methamphetamine) or the Hispanics who usually have weed (marijuana).
When the different groups get involved with a drug that is not their usual business it can interfere with another groups business. That can cause serious problems up to and including fights. Q. In your opinion how do drugs come into the institution? A. I decline to answer that question.
Q. In your opinion, how do the authority figures handle the drugs issue? A. If they don't have their hands into it (the introduction of drugs to the institution) then they try to be by the book. Q. Are there treatment programs available to inmates? A. Yes.
There's N. A. (Narcotics Anonymous), A. A. (Alcoholics Anonymous) and C. D.
(Chemical Dependency). Q. Are there penalties for being caught with drugs? A. Yes, there are penalties for being caught with drugs. Q. Are the penalties for being caught with drugs severe? A.
The severity of the penalty depends on who catches you, what type of drug you have or what the officers think you might have, how many times you were previously caught, who writes the major infraction, and who does the major infraction hearing. Q. Are you required to do drug tests? A. Yes. Anytime an officer calls your number for a drug test you are required to submit a urine sample to be tested.
Q. Are there penalties for testing positive? A. A positive on a drug test gets you a major infraction. Q.
Are the penalties for testing positive on a drug test severe? A. It depends again on who writes the major infraction and whether or not you " ve had a positive drug test in the past. You could lose good time and be sent to the hole or you could just be sent to the hole and have the loss of good time suspended. It all depends on the situation. I also had the opportunity to interview a former female inmate of the Washington State Department of Corrections. Her name is Lynn# and she is twenty-five years old.
When I asked her about her experiences with the use of drugs in the women's prison system here is what she said: Q. How many institutions have you been in? A. I have been incarcerated at one woman's institution. Q. For how many years were you incarcerated? A. My original sentence was twenty months which is almost two years; however, a new state law allowed for my sentence to be reduced by half.
I served a total of ten months out of the twenty month sentence. Q. In your opinion is drug use and abuse a problem in America's prison system? A. In my opinion the use of drugs and the abuse of drugs is a problem in America's prison system. Many individuals who become incarcerated are in prison due to the use of drugs. In addition, I know of several women that were on drugs at the time their respective crime was committed.
Q. What are the primary drugs you believe to be abused in your opinion? A. In the women's prison I was at several different types of drugs can be obtained. Some people use other inmates prescription drugs such as vic odin or per coset. Heroin, marijuana, and cocaine were also popular within the prison but they are much harder to come across.
Q. Are drugs a major factor in violence in the institution? A. Although it may sound like the use of drugs would make people more violent, this would actually be false. At the prison I was at there was a saying many of us used, 'A medicated prison is a happy prison.' Most of the inmate population at this prison was on medication for one thing or another.
Whether or not the drugs were prescribed by the clinic or obtained from another source, the drugs did what they were supposed to do. They made the time in prison a little more bearable. Q. In your opinion how do drugs come into the institution? A. Most of the drugs brought into the women's prison was by the correctional officers. The majority of correctional officers were men and several of the officers would bring the drugs in for sexual favors from inmates.
There are also instances where a visitor to the institution would bring the drugs in for their friend or family who was incarcerated at the prison. At the prison I was incarcerated at it is illegal for a male correction officer to conduct a pat search. In addition, correction officers cannot touch certain areas on a woman as it violates privacy of a woman's body. Woman who transport drugs from a visitor back to their unit can put the drugs inside of their bra or around their pelvic area and when they are being pat searched to go back to their unit the drugs are undetected by an officer.
This is riskier than swallowing the balloons of drugs and waiting for them balloons to pass through your system. Q. In your opinion, how do the authority figures handle the drugs issue? A. Prison is a society all of it's own.
Just like the 'free world', correctional officers make small attempts to stop the introduction of drugs into the institution. I say a small attempt because again most of the drugs are brought in by the correctional officers themselves and just like cops they stick together to cover one another. Q. Are there treatment programs available to inmates? A. Yes, there are treatment programs available but they are hard to get into. When I was incarcerated the primary focus for drug treatment remained on those inmates sentenced under the Drug Offender Sentencing Act (DOS A) or had court ordered treatment.
The inmates that made the choice that they no longer wanted to abuse drugs were put on a waiting list and the chances of being able to received treatment while incarcerated was slim. Q. Are there penalties for being caught with drugs? A. Yes, there are penalties for being caught with drugs. Q.
Are the penalties for being caught with drugs severe? A. The severity of the penalty depended on who caught you, what type of drug you had, how many times you were previously caught, who wrote the major infraction, and who conducted the major infraction hearing. (A major infraction is determined by Revised Code of Washington statues. A guilty determination on a major infraction can send an inmate to solitary confinement or the 'hole' for a specified length of time. ) Q. Are you required to do drug tests? A.
Yes, you must do a drug test anytime a corrections officers tells you to. Also each time you are transferred to a different institution you have to do a drug test. Q. Are there penalties for testing positive? A. If you are not able to provide a specimen within one hour of starting the collection process it is considered a suspicious urine analysis (UA) and you are sent to solitary confinement for 30 days. The 30 solitary confinement, if not longer, also applies for a UA coming back positive.
Q. Are the penalties for testing positive on a drug test severe? A. It depends on what you consider to be severe. Personally spending time in solitary would not have been too bad because it gets crazy being around women twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The time to be alone would have been nice. I personally do not use drugs so that would not have been my reasons for being sent to the hole.
The reality is that taking the chance of having to spend time in the hole or losing good time is sometimes worth it to someone who wants to escape the madness that prison life can create. As you can see the opinion of the use of drugs within prison is different between male and female institutions. Even with these differences, the issue of drugs within our prison systems is still a major concern for correction officers, police officers, and other groups that make up the criminal justice system. The United States has taken the issue of drugs within the prison system serious to the point of President Williams Clinton issuing a "No Tolerance on Drugs Policy" within the American prison system. A 1999 President Clinton issued a statement that "$215 Million for the most comprehensive drug supervision ever" and "Roughly $120 Million for drug-free prison initiatives." #Globally the introduction of drugs can be seen in all countries around the world. From the United States to England to New Zealand, drugs within the prison system can be evidenced.
A report issued by the Health Research Board Exploratory in Ireland found that many inmates who used drugs while incarcerated did not start the abuse of drugs after incarceration. In addition the report found that fifty-seven percent of inmates using drugs chose to use heroin. # In Germany the major problems within the prison system is not limited to overcrowding, it includes a sub-population of drug abusers infected with HIV and AIDS. The use of intravenous drugs complicated by the unwillingness or the inability to stop drug use because of a serious physical reaction has caused for the numbers rise among the transmission of HIV between inmates. #In conclusion, all countries, regardless of race, creed or religion are faced with the impending issue of drugs within the prison systems.
A couple questions that have been raised are, should we allow the legalization of marijuana or cannabis within the prison system since the affects of cannabis do not cause inmates to become violent? Would the legalization of cannabis help inmates or cause further problems for corrections staff? Is the best treatment option for inmates the abstinence-based program or should further research into other treatment programs be looked at? I agree that cannabis should be legalized for inmates. The affects of cannabis to relieve and cause an individual to become more relaxed is a proven fact by physicians around the world. Ultimately we must look at all the avenues available to help inmates to cope with prison, life and to receiving drug treatment that they need. 1. web prisoners 2. web web "Jay" is the name used in order to protect his anonymity.
5. "Lynn" is the name used in order to protect her anonymity. Drugs In Prison The Bibliography American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse (web m 0978/is 2 27/ai 78917485) Statistical data for federal drug treatment programs. Drugs in Prison (web) The drug problem in European prisons. Drug Mis-using Offender in Prison after release (web) Drug treatment in prison and aftercare: a literature review and results of a survey of European countries.
Drug use in prison (web) Provides detailed information about drug use in prison in Ireland. Interview with Serai ah Williams (in person) First hand account of drug trafficking, use, abuse, effects, and treatment in a Washington State female correctional facility. Interview with Kaa i Williams (in person) First hand account of drug trafficking, use, abuse, effects, and treatment in a Washington State male correctional facility. Prison Information Handbook (web information handbook. htm) General information about prisons in New Zealand. Schaffer Library of Drug Policy (web) A Criminal Justice System Strategy for Treating Cocaine-Heroin Abusing Offenders in Custody.
Substance Use In Prisoners The Norm Rather Than The Exception (web) An article detailing drug use in UK prisons. The Eye of the Needle (web) An article about an inmate detailing drugs use and authority's attitude in Scotland. The Prevention of Infectious Diseases in Prison (web) The effects of drugs and the spread of Aids and other diseases in prisons as a direct effect of drug abuse. Zero Tolerance for drugs in Prison (web) Presidents Clinton's No tolerance drugs policy for the American Prison system.