Perceptions of and Experiences with Contraband in Correctional Facilities: A Qualitative Examination



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The presence of contraband within correctional facilities poses a considerable amount of danger to inmates, correctional officers, and correctional staff alike. However, preventing the entry of contraband into correctional facilities has shown to be an ongoing battle in our correctional facilities in the United States. So much so that contraband has remained a problem within our correctional systems for decades. Since the advent of cellular technology, online electronic money transfer systems, and newer and less detectable drugs, we have seen a major evolution in the methods used to bring in contraband, the types of contraband available, the methods of purchasing contraband, and the methods of transfer funds as it relates to contraband. There is a lack of recent information contained within the criminal justice literature that discusses the current forms of contraband in correctional facilities, newer entry methods, the relationship between contraband cellphones and other forms of contraband, the newer methods of transferring funds, the role that contraband plays in the everyday lives of inmates, and the ways in which prison culture and behavioral expectations are shaped by this sub-rosa inmate economy. This study updates the current state of the literature that surrounds the inmate economy and the many facets of contraband by relying on in-depth qualitative interviews with previously incarcerated individuals.



Prison contraband, Inmate economy