Gilliard 1Tyra GilliardENG 101Professor BoltonApril 8, 2013Security in PrisonsIn March 2012, a prison guard from Bloomfield, New Jersey pleaded guilty to one count ofsecond-degree official misconduct. The prison guard placed himself in a scheming role to smuggle drugs,cell phones, and other contrabands into the facility. In January, 2 prisoners from an Oklahoma prisonescaped from a maximum-security prison. These prisoners pulled toilets from their cell walls andescaped through a hidden maintenance tunnel and a vent. In February, 6prisoners at the medium-security, St. Clair Correctional Facility located in Alabama managed to escape. The prisoners used abroom to sneak under a fence and bypass prison guards along with the facility’s high-tech securitysystems. When it comes to the topic of security in prisons, most of us will readily agree that prisons arehighly secured with well-trained guards and security systems. Where this agreement usually ends,however, is on the question of how many prisoners managed to escape or attempt to escape? Whereassome are convinced that prison guards help inmates escape, others maintain that inmates will dowhatever it takes to escape. Many wardens at prison facilities, assume their facility is well constructedand consisted of efficient security. Ultimately, what is at stake here is prisoners (murderers, rapists, andburglars) are retaining their freedom by escaping. However, recently experts suggest that security inprisons aren’t enhanced enough. Today, most citizens or victims of crimes made by prisoners areconcerned and care about what the inmate may be capable of doing. Security in prisons needs to beenhanced quickly to prevent prisoners from escaping, exchanging drugs, and developing crooked prisonguards.First, security needs to be enhanced to prevent prisoners from escaping.As Engdahl questioned,“Is the purpose of prison to punish the criminal, to rehabilitate, to deter others from crime, or simply
Gilliard 2protect the public from individuals who are dangerous” (19).Majority of the prisoners are in prison toprevent themselves from committing other crimes, receiving punishment for the crimes they’vecommitted, or rehabilitation. Most of the time,prisoners are harmful to society and that’s why theyshouldn’t escape. For example, if a sex offender was to escape from prison and get back into society, it’sa huge possibility that he/she will continue to live the life of a sex offender and continue to hurt society.When these criminals commit these horrible crimes, they show no remorse for what they have done andno care in the world what happens. Most of them are self-centered and care about no one exceptthemselves. When prisoners feel as if they don’t belong there or they can’t take being there anymore,they find a way to escape. They find any and every opportunity and also think of good solutions toescape. Security issues are mainly the primary source of them escaping. The escaping routines vary fromcutting wired fences or finding a hole in the facility’s security structure and exploiting it.But in order toprevent prisoners from escaping prisons, the facility should be enhanced in several ways. First, eachprisoners should have a tracking device braceletalso known as GPS, located on their ankles. The trackingdevice will locate each and every prisoners’ whereabouts in the prison and outside of the prison. If theprisoner is wearing the device and enters a prohibited area, an alarm would sound off.According to“Keeping Tabs on Dangerous Parolees”, the electronic monitoring bracelet helped authorities locatePeter Whitmore’s whereabouts (Ko).Therefore, if inmates are required to have GPS tracking bracelets, itwill also help monitor their whereabouts as well. Second, the security staff should be well-trained. Asusual, each security staff or prison guard or correctional officer must be trained. However, the questionis, are they being trained efficiently and effectively? When it comes down to doing searching fortraining, the trainees may show their best during training but in reality they don’t enforce the sametechniques. For example, in training in relation to searching, the trainees must do a thorough search thecells, accommodation units, work and recreation areas, vehicles and etc. But once reality hits, their lackof searching will lead to a misled prevention of aprisoner finding an escape way out. Prisoners are
Gilliard 3incarcerated to prevent others from becoming hurt and for prisoners to recuperate and get their livestogether.In addition to the prevention of prisoners escaping, security needs to also be improved toprevent prisoners and guards from exchanging drugs. Drugs in prison systems have become an issue forcorrections staff for several years. Although they are a big issue, drugs are the main reason how peopleland in jail. The same ones who were selling drugs on the outside want to continue their business in theinside.Drugs in prison can bring up to many more times as much as the street value. This isallowingprisoners to gain more credibility and power than they should actually have. However, thequestion is, how are drugs coming into prisons? Prison officials believe that visitors of prisoners are themain source of how drugs are entering the prisons. Most visitors will try to smuggle the drugs inside abody cavity. On February 3, 2012, a North Carolina woman named Tammy Amaon, was charged with sixdrug-related offenses after she was found with possession of marijuana and cocaine during a visit toaprisoner at the Johnston Correctional Center. The woman had four bags (one bag of cocaine and threebags of marijuana) in her pants pocket. Second, drugs are entering the prisons by corrupt prisonguards.In February of 2013, a former Philadelphia prison guard was charged for allegedly working withaprisoner to smuggle drugs, tobacco and cell phones into the prison. The prison guard tried to smugglein marijuana, Xanax pills, tobacco and cell phones. Although, some prisons have installed X-raymachines, drug sniffing dogs, and metal detectors, there are still ways that drugs are getting in. But ifsecurity was enhanced, drugs wouldn’t be entered into the prisons.However there are many solutions toprevent this from happening. First, prison security personnel should conduct thorough “pat” downsearches of all visitors and also use more sniffing dogs. Pat down searches are used to resolve anyalarms of a metal detector, anomalies identified by imaging technology, and prevent dangerous or illegalitems such as guns, drugs, contraband into the prison. Sniffing dog also known as “detection dog” isused in prisons to detect substances such as drugs. In this case, when security fails in prisons, dogs could
Gilliard 4be a powerful backup system. Second, prisons should also purchase more surveillance cameras andother equipment to detect the drugs that visitors or officers bring in.Surveillance cameras simply willmonitor everything from prisoners to visitors to prison staff. Furthermore, prison systems could reducethe amount of drugs making their way behind their doors if only they have the right resources. InPrisons, it states, “If we were serious about using our limited resources most effectively in reducingcrime and victimization and increasing public safety, then we would begin to responsibly andsystematically transfer some of the resources now used to imprison people to community basedprevention, reentry and capacity building” (42). What this simply means is that we have the resources toincrease the security of prisons, but aren’t taking it into consideration as we should.Next, security in prisons needs to be enriched to stop the development of corrupt prisonguards.In October of 2012, aprisoner named Calvin Kingcade was arrested and sent to the Miami-Dadepre-trial detention center for domestic violence and robbery. While at the detention center, he wasreceiving a series of brutal beatings from a group of inmates but didn’t know why. A month later, hefound out that he was a target because prisoners assumed he was a confidential informant. But, theperson who gave them the information was one of the prison guards at the prison facility. The guard liedin order to get revenge for a supposed theft. The guard plotted the beatings to the prisoner because herobbed his nephew of a gold chain which belonged to him. Corrupt prison guards should be preventedfor several reasons. First of all, prison guards are supposed to maintain order, prevent disturbances,assaults, and escapes of prisoners. But in reality, they don’t do their job the correct way. Also, they areresponsible for the safety and security of the facility. They shouldn’t be involved in any harmful or illegalactivities that may harm prisoners and others. Second, prison guards are responsible for most of thefights and drug activity in prison. They take advantage of their jobs and don’t show any remorse forthings they have done or said. In Prisons, a civil rights lawyer stated, “A prison is not supposed to turnyou back out to society with more harm than when you came in. No one, no one in this country, no one
Gilliard 5in a civilized society is sentenced to be raped and assaulted in prison” (74). Therefore, most prisonguards aren’t what they look like in their uniforms.Development of corrupt prison guards are affectingthe prison in several ways. First, this is labeling the good and bad guards. The good guards will abide bythe right rules while the bad guards abide by their own rules. Their own rules lead to prisoners beingbeat to death in prison, favoritism over prisoners, and also dating relationships between guards andprisoners. They also indulge themselves in bribery and turn their backs when crimes are committedamong inmates. For example, if an inmate is ganged by a few inmates or if two inmates are in a solitarycell fighting, the guard will watch the inmates fight until one of them is dead or just purposely leave thescenery. According to “Encyclopedia of American Prisons”, prison personnel get caught up in thecontraband trade and smuggle items into prison for prisoners. Prison personnel who smugglecontraband may be corrupt to begin with. Some who get caught up in smuggling, however, are trickedor coerced into doing the bidding of the prisoners. Enterprising prisoners may solicit small favors fromofficers or other staff (113-14). However, there are several solutions to prevent the development ofcorrupt prison guards and hiring them. First, each and every prison guard should receive updatedtraining throughout their career. Updated training will determine whether the guard has improved ornot, whether the guard is doing what he/she is supposed to be doing correctly. In “The Date Game:Training of Prison Guards”, it states that most correctional facilities require a prospective staff memberto meet stringent criteria before being hired. References and criminal background are checked and drugtests and pre-hire psychological tests are also administered (53). However, these training procedures areextremely important when considering whether a prison guards is corrupt or not. Second, prison guardsshould be monitored as well. Individuals looking to become a prison guard should be backgroundchecked which will help analyze the history of their unethical behavior or if they have any gang-tiedrelations.Prison guard corruptions are extremely devastating to the prison system and consists ofbehaviors that shouldn’t be allowed. Security needs to be enhanced to prevent corrupt prison guards.
Gilliard 6However, does the evidence I’ve cited prove conclusively that security in prisons needs to beenhanced? People have said that security in prisons doesn’t need to be enhanced. At this point I wouldlike to raise objections that have been inspired by the skeptic in me. I feel that everyone who believesthis is ignoring what is at risk for citizens. If security isn’t improved within prisons, there will be severalthings at risk that shouldn’t be at risk. No one’s life should be at risk simply because a false alarmenabled a prisoner to escape. A mother of three children shouldn’t be worried that a sex offender willharm her daughter again. No one’s life should be taken because of a false accusation of prisoners andprison guards. Any mother or father shouldn’t be the one burying their child due to security issues.Before considering that security doesn’t need improve, people need to consider the what-ifs.In conclusion, security in prisons needs to be improved to ensure the safety of citizens,prisoners, and other individuals. The lives of children, parents, friends and family are at stake. Assecurity is steadily being improved in prisons, the percentage of escapees escaping are decreasing, thenumber of convictions by employed corrupt prison guards and drug transactions are increasing. Byconsidering and making huge improvement, citizens would reconsider prisons as a harmful place andthink of it has a safe place with efficient security. However, in order to continue increase the security inprisons, it’s up to the victims of crimes, victims in prison being mistreated and the people who care tocontinue to have efficient security.
Gilliard 7Works CitedCasey, Steven. “Never Cry Wolf.” Set Phasers on Stun (And Other True Tales of Design, Technology, andHuman Error. Santa Barbara: Aegean Press, 1993. 89-91. Print.Engdahl, Sylvia. Prisons. Detroit: Gale Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.Joyner, Ruby. “The Dating Game.” American Jails 26.5 (2012): 51-54. Academic Search Premier. Web. 5Apr. 2013.Ko, Marnie. “Keeping Tabs On Dangerous Parolees.” Report/Newsmagazine (National Edition) 29.3(2002): 27. Academic Search Premier. Web. 5 Apr. 2013.Life Behind Bars. Films Media Group, 1999. Films On Demand. Web. 05 April 2013.<http://digital.films.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?aid=3503&xtid=10167>.Williams, Franklin P., and Marilyn D. McShane. Encyclopedia of American Prisons. n.p.: Garland Pub,1996. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 4 Apr. 2013