Trending Topics

Civilian staff and contraband control

Basic contraband control is one of the easiest ways corrections support staff can buttress overall security


Prison librarians and other civilian staff have the power to reduce the spread of contraband.

AP photo

By Joe Bouchard

Civilian staff must know how to work on both sides of the hyphen. For instance, Corrections-Teachers need to know how to educate, but must also have a solid command of other corrections functions. Corrections-Librarians must serve as information resources, but must always do so with security in mind. A foundation of security best practices makes, ultimately, for a safer institution.

Basic contraband control is one of the easiest ways corrections support staff can buttress overall security. It is the key to safety both within the prison and outside the walls, and, as a result, contraband control should be practiced by every single staff member.

Here are some basics that all civilian staff should know:

• Contraband control is everyone’s duty
• Custody staff welcomes a partnership with civilian staff
• A good security base diminishes abuse of programs and disruptions, paving the way for stronger programming
• Security-conscious staff are less likely to be the targets of inmate manipulation
• A contraband-free area increases personal safety for all staff
• Cooperation with custody staff can foster overall unity, making the facility a more pleasant place to work

There may be — for a variety of reasons — a very small percentage of security staff that don’t want the help of civilian staff. Civilians, they may think, are a nuisance and a danger to the facility. The good news is that most corrections staff do not believe this, and they would welcome the help of civilian workers.

So, how can civilian staff earn more respect and trust from skeptical custody staff?

• By accepting pat downs and contraband searches maturely and professionally
• Showing their basic corrections skills by securing their area of control
• Writing misconduct reports and always saving a copy
• Observing and reporting unusual pairings to inspectors, communicating them to other areas affected, and passing them up the chain of command — for example, if illegal correspondence is intercepted in the library about a kitchen incident, report it to the kitchen in addition to informing your manager

By doing their part to enhance security and remove contraband from their facility, civilian staff will be less likely to be killed or assaulted. Civilian staff who operate with an awareness of contraband best practices will gain more support from security staff and, ultimately, will ensure better programming for their facility.

Joe Bouchard worked in a maximum correctional facility for 25 years and is now retired. He continues to write and present on many corrections topics. He is the former editor of The Correctional Trainer. Bouchard has been an instructor of corrections and criminal justice since 1999. He currently teaches at Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College. Bouchard also has online writing clips at He is also the author of three corrections books for LRP publications and 10 books for IACTP’s series of training exercises books. Order now.

After a CO spotted the trespasser, a tracking K-9 led authorities on a 3-mile chase of the suspect
Off-site mail digitization and netting to prevent drone contraband further reduce the passage of drugs into St. Charles County jail
Detectives suspect the man, who kicked and spit at guards, was “grooming” a nurse by exchanging letters with her
State prison officials credit coordination with AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and other phone companies to shut down 790 contraband cellphones