Thinking About Smuggling Contraband Into Jail? Better Think Again.


Southern prisons have a cell phone smuggling problem according to a new report out by NBC News. Southern states hold nine of the top ten spots for states with the highest cell phone seizure rate.

But cell phones aren’t the only item of contraband being smuggled into jails. And it isn’t just a southern problem.

Contraband includes illegal items – like weapons and drugs. But it also includes items that prisoners are not allowed to have – like cell phones, pornography, and candy. Cell phones give prisoners the means and opportunity to coordinate drug rings, commit extortion, plan escapes, or order murders.

Prison officials work hard to keep illicit items out of prisoners hands. Prisoners use smuggled good to increase their power in prison. As silly as it sounds, candy is a tool for wielding power among inmates. They trade favors, or other illegal items, in exchange for the things they want.

If candy is a power building tool, imagine what several pornographic pictures, or weapons, or drugs will get you.

A shakedown of inmates in the main corridor of the Ellis Prison Farm, Huntsville, Texas, 1968; photograph by Danny Lyon from his 1971 book Conversations with the Dead

Contraband smuggling is a jailable offense. 

Most states punish contraband smuggling with jail time, fines, or jail time and fines. These crimes can be classified as misdemeanors or felonies. Punishment is more severe depending on how the crime is classified.

Federal law punishes jailhouse smuggling anywhere from six months to 20 years. Just think about that for a minute.

Who do you love enough that you are willing to sacrifice 20 years of your life for?

Who loves you so little that they are willing to let you sacrifice 20 years of your life for them?

Just say “no.” 

Don’t try to sneak stuff into jail! It’s a bad idea. Nothing you can give will be worth the jail time you’ll serve for giving it.


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