Comments

bobApril 15, 2008 7:27 AM

Even with locked walls on all 6 sides and 24 hour supervision, people can still get drugs. Lets try this - stop trying. Weve been fighting the "war on drugs" for 120 years now (drugs started being banned in the 1880s in the US) and have more habitual drug users now than the ENTIRE POPULATION back then. So pretend this is a free country - make them legal.

Between not spending $350,000,000,000 per year (at the federal level; a similar amount by the collective states - and accomplishing nothing for it) and the taxes you will be able to levy you will have to pave the moon with gold or something to use up the excess budget money. (Even more novel idea - let the taxpayers keep it and figure out how to spend their own money themselves! Nah too radical, nvm)

Plus organized crime will be pretty much out of business (which is why it wont happen, organized crime is too powerful in congress).

NickoApril 15, 2008 8:00 AM

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? "Secure" facilities are only secure if their own security procedures are enforced, and proper enforcement requires effective oversight. Compare the relative incomes of drugs dealers and prison officers and it's easy to see an incentive to switch sides if no one is looking.

Smee JenkinsApril 15, 2008 8:34 AM

We can't keep drugs out of prison; we can't possibly expect to keep them out of airports.

Oh, wait. I think I've butchered that quote.

Trichinosis USAApril 15, 2008 8:39 AM

The US is never going to legalize marijuana (which grows wild as a weed if not checked) as long as idiots are willing to repeatedly pay 5$ for a pack of infinitely more toxic chemically processed tobacco.

Just as they aren't going to push solar power (which is completely free after absorbing initial equipment costs) as long as suckers are willing to repeatedly pay $100 a barrel for #2 crude. For much the same reasons.

Stuff that's free and easy to get just doesn't create enough jobs - however superficial and based on a lemming-like self-destructiveness those jobs might be. This is the extreme of stupidity that our current form of pseudo-capitalism is based on, and it will destroy us if we don't stop the madness.

Of course, free and easy labor is something these pseudo-capitalists love, hence the blossoming "prison industry". It surprises me not a bit that drugs are able to get into that system. Drugged people are easy to control - and will work themselves to death to be able to afford their next fix. The war on drugs is as prefabricated and unnecessary as the war in Iraq.

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/12/12/...

dannyApril 15, 2008 8:54 AM

UK prisons introduced a drug testing policy a while back - forcing the majority of prisoners off of soft drugs - which stay in your system for an extending period - onto opiate based drugs which clear your system very quickly.
Essentially overnight they created a hard drug problem in UK prisons that did not previously exist.

Ironic how testing for drugs in prisons has made the overall prison drug culture much worse.

Paul WiedelApril 15, 2008 9:08 AM

A group of sufficiently motivated individuals with nothing to lose versus any prison system: it's only a matter of time before the prisoners find the gaps in the system.

not a userApril 15, 2008 9:33 AM

bollocks!

you know what the answer is?

they seal the ventilation, windows and cover the excercise areas with nets.

sorry guys, i got done for contempt (bawled out a magistrate for failure to be trained, because they DO NOT HAVE TO BE TRAINED if you're before a bench the only legally trained (not qualified) person is the clerk, who actually has powers) and spent a fortnight in Pentonville.

I could write a book worthy of Bruce on the subject.

THIS IS NOT A GOOD ARTICLE.BAD CALL.

actually i spent much more than a foortnight because there is no organiised system to help you get a lawyer. you have to game the system inside to get any help whatsoever. rights? balderdash or whatever Scrouge said! (actually better stay inside than use the average public defender here)

Upshot: they take away your ventilation because some guys in the 'ville had a wire to pulley drugs in from the overlooking estate buildings.


the guy above is wrong about the drug testing, you are ASKED IF YOU'VE TAKEN DRUGS. not tested. testing is voluntary and has been since some ECHR decision that was once explained to me. But people say they are abusers because in the rehab wing you are treated much better - you actually get out of your cell. They put you on Librium if you say you drink - a highly addictive product in itself. You withdraw very nastily from that in general population, making you a potential (real) victim of the Hobsons choice: "do i lie and say i'm an addict and get out of my cell to call my attorney (8 minutes max to navigate option prompts and secretaries before you get 30 seconds to scream HELP! at your appointed legal wastrel) OR do you take it on the chin, not be obliged to sign on to the "rehab" course, and stick it out with the tough lot (most in the "rehab" wing are petty criminals, not violent).

I learned all that in Pentonville's "reception" because some guys wondered what the hell i was doing there and took pity (and wanted advice)

This piece is factually 180 degrees from the truth, and frankly dangerous. As a intellectual admirer of Mr Schneier i have to say i am disappointed that he has linked to what is actually a propoganda peice probably put out by NEC on the day they annouce a deal with the Home Office to sell useless crap:

http://www.theinquirer.net/gb/inquirer/news/2008/...


oh, and in true, Aspergic, /. style "first real post" ;-)

Jared LesslApril 15, 2008 9:36 AM

> Weve been fighting the "war on drugs" for 120 years now

132 years and counting, starting with the passage of the first anti-opium ordinance in San Francisco, in late 1875.

It's noteworthy to point out the racist aspect of that very first law. It made smoked opium (the delivery preferred by chinese immigrants) illegal but left the liquid 'medicinal' form (preferred by whites) untouched.

AnonymousApril 15, 2008 9:51 AM

just for fun, someone can go search for the UK Prison Service's own estimate as to corruption within it's ranks. 26% IIRC. Go! :-)

AnonymousApril 15, 2008 9:58 AM

"A group of sufficiently motivated individuals with nothing to lose versus any prison system: it's only a matter of time before the prisoners find the gaps in the system."

no, you have no experience, you have to find the gaps even to get enough food, and i am a anorexic child (food is traded with inmate "servers"). start there on Maslow's.

AnonymousApril 15, 2008 10:03 AM

"UK prisons introduced a drug testing policy a while back - forcing the majority of prisoners off of soft drugs -"

BS again, in part: it's voluntary, so if you have a connexion, you can game your use. But the way you do try to get straight is you must agree to tests if you "work" - manual labor 1 GBP/day. Supposedly random, you get wind of possible tests, and can clean up. Also you are allowed to urinate in private. There are containers left for trade by those who are knowingly clean, at a price. Price = maybe a few burn. (burn = rollup cigarette)

So "soft" drugs are still the most prevalent. Sorry mate, done the time, know what goes on. Most people do not want to go through withdrawal in prison.

HarryApril 15, 2008 10:28 AM

MDT (Mandatory Drug Testing) in UK prisons is not voluntary. It counts as badly against you to refuse a test as it does to fail one. That's the M in the MDT.

On some wings, you can volunteer to be tested more frequently than the MDT random schedule. That's voluntary in the sense that you get to stay on the "better" wings (usually the drug free ones) if you accept the voluntary, more frequent, testing.

As the article points out, mobile phones are an integral part of the process by which drugs enter the prison. At least, for routes where several people have to cooperate in getting parcels over security walls.

What the article does not note is that mobile phones are also integral in paying for the drugs:

If I want to buy drugs in prison, then (one route) I need a telephone banking account -- mine before I went in or a friend/relative's on the Out. Payment is made by me calling my bank on the (illicit) mobile controlled by the drug supplier. So no cash needed.

That's one reason why being in possession of a mobile phone in a UK prison has very recently become a criminal offense. It may deter officers from smuggling them in: if you get caught with a phone in your possession while entering the prison, the authorities have stronger sanctions now that just an administrative ticking off / firing.

AMApril 15, 2008 11:38 AM

Drugs will never be kept out of prison..end of story.

This should not be equated to the war on drugs or keeping them out of other places though.

Drugs come in from so many avenues.From corrupt staff to simple keistering to elaborate schemes that cirumvent detection.

Contrary to popular belief a lot of this guys are really smart and really organized. They have a whole system for smuggling the drugs in and use cryptography and stenography for communication. (ie. one time pads and lemon juice on normal letter or art).

Also its a whole society of people who look out for each other and submerge themselves in the criminal lifestyle. On the streets you could tell a cop if you saw a drug deal, if you did that in prison and were found out you would be a marked target.

I dont think any of this means you should give up trying to prevent it though. By enforcing drug laws you still limit the amount that can come in. If drugs were free flowing there would be a lot more deaths and violence.

My .02 from someone who has been there and done that.

bobApril 15, 2008 2:03 PM

@AM: "By enforcing drug laws you still limit the amount that can come in. If drugs were free flowing there would be a lot more deaths and violence."

Prove it - list someplace that legalized drugs and had things get worse OR some place that banned them and had them get better.

You're saying exactly what the prohibitionists said about banning alcohol, and that turned out to be the exact opposite - triggering a decade long organized crime spree DURING prohibition which faded away once it was re-legalized (with respect to alcohol; they moved on to narcotics since those are still unlawful).

By limiting the amount of drugs you raise their value and incite violence. Worse yet you motivate teenagers to try them in order to rebel against authority.

The level of technology required to make hard drugs (heroin, opium, cocaine) is very low; which is why it is a cash crop in Afghanistan. If it was the same price as, say, Catsup (or Ketchup if you wish); since making it requires about the same level of technology and effort as cocaine, there would be no reason to steal in order to get it. It would also then not have the profit margin to support criminals.

And the taxes from it could pay for education and rehab a la tobacco and alcohol.

As a plus they would cut the prison population in the US in half, so that you only had to lock up people who had actually done something bad.

ShaneApril 15, 2008 4:12 PM

@AM: "By enforcing drug laws you still limit the amount that can come in. If drugs were free flowing there would be a lot more deaths and violence."

Actually, take Amsterdam for example... whose drug use per 100,000 citizens is nearly half of ours, and whose drug enforcement laws are nearly non-existent.

Not only that, but their citizens don't have pay through the ass to feed and house non-violent 'drug offenders', because they don't go to prison there.

(At least) Over 70% of our inmates in the federal prison system, that we pay for, are in prison on non-violent drug charges.

Drug laws simply create criminals out of ordinary citizens, and create incredibly wealthy and powerful drug smuggling kingpins out of two-bit thugs.

Not to mention, legalizing and taxing drugs much like we tax alcohol and tobacco, coupled with the release or de-criminalization of all current non-violent drug offenders in the prison system, and dissolving the relevant federal programs' budgets for 'The War on Drugs' would nearly even out our national debt.

I'm with bob, and the rest of the non-washed minds of the country. Let it go, they are ancient, racially motivated, unconstitutional laws that should never have been passed in the first place. Subsequently, if you believe that drugs should be illegal or controlled, then you cannot look any educated man in the face and say that you also believe tobacco and alcohol should be legal, since they kill, for health reasons alone and per capita, more people than all other drugs combined, illegal or not.

HarryApril 15, 2008 5:03 PM

@Bob:

The interesting thing is, those on both sides of the legalization debate (those who have eduated themselves on the facts, that is) agree on the consequences of legalization. There will be more drug addicts and less drug-related violence. Where they differ is which outcome is preferable.

AMApril 15, 2008 6:08 PM

@Bob & @Shane

The article and what I wrote is about keeping drugs out of prison. Non of what I said really relates to free society.

In prison most of the people are abusers of drugs. Its not a recreational pass time to them.

I would doubt either of you has had to be around someone whos been up on methamphetamines for several days. If your trying to argue that methamphetamines does not make a person violent I can tell you that you are very wrong. Some of the most brutal acts of random violence come from someone who has been up for days and has a very altered sense of reality.

Please read the article and what I said more carefully next time before you want to jump on me.

KTHXBYE

SkorjApril 15, 2008 7:00 PM

@Harry

Thats a small part of the picture. If we legalize drugs we will have:

More drug addicts
Less drug-related violence
Significantly tax burden
Less government corruption
Less excuse to blantantly ignore the constitution

The last point is the one I weight most heavily: the single biggest cost of the War on Drugs is the destruction of the 4th amendment that it allowed.

meApril 15, 2008 11:52 PM

@KTHXBYE

Methamphetamines and the like have been implicated in some very violent bashings around here.

What would drop is drug related theft not unnecessarily the violence.

MarkApril 16, 2008 2:11 AM

@bob
Prove it - list someplace that legalized drugs and had things get worse OR some place that banned them and had them get better.

Anywhere, any time within recorded history...

@bob
You're saying exactly what the prohibitionists said about banning alcohol, and that turned out to be the exact opposite - triggering a decade long organized crime spree DURING prohibition which faded away once it was re-legalized (with respect to alcohol; they moved on to narcotics since those are still unlawful).

Even if prohibition actually did something positive about the drug(s) in question. You still have the issue of very well armed gangsters fighting a shooting war with both each other and equally well armed police.

bobApril 16, 2008 9:17 AM

@me: If drug users commit crimes, prosecute them for committing crimes. Just like if you drive under the influence or rob somebody while drunk - you are prosecuted for violating laws that actually have victims, not for drinking per se.

Maybe they will switch to more mellow drugs when it is a free choice instead of merely whats available due to the latest enforcement trend?

@Mark: So you have no examples? Exactly my point. Just like the "world is flat" or "man cant fly"; everyone knows banning drugs helps, but no one has any scientific evidence one way or the other. And once someone actually tries to prove it scientifically it turns out to be the opposite - the world ISNT flat and man CAN fly.

So the gauntlet is still thrown: "prove it" - show me a place that outlawed drugs and had things improve over time. The only place I am intimately familiar with (the US) has had no noticeable benefit to society at large (as opposed to benefiting someone who makes money from the "war on drugs" which we should NOT be doing) and massive harm (organized crime, gigantic prison population, normal people unable to buy cold medication because .00001% of it is used produce meth, etc) and this at mind-boggling expense.

@AM: Sorry if I misinterpreted your statement - I realize the article was about drugs in prison however you simply said "enforcing drug laws" without a caveat, so I read it as "enforcing drug laws".

My position is that free society in general should not have drug laws (for that matter any laws against "victimless crimes"), nevermind an entire "military-industrial complex" grown around "controlling" them; if they were legal there could not be a drug problem in prison.

@Harry: I dont even necessarily stipulate that there would be more addicts. I believe a lot of people (primarily "kids") use unlawful drugs because they are unlawful; if it was legal that would drop out of the equation. However if it is true I would point with pride to a country where people are able to live their lives as they see fit and not because some other person prefers it a different way.

@Skorj: Word! And dont forget to add that terrorists (constitutional root password v3.0) get a lot of money from drugs and cause problems for us because other countries, like Columbia are completely dysfunctional due to the money THEIR criminals get from OUR drug users. If it was legal, they would be produced domestically.

Nathan SmithApril 16, 2008 9:30 AM

As a part of volunteer training for the Oregon Department of Corrections we were told some cautionary tales. Oregon prisons are smoke-free, so tobacco is quite valuable within the system. One guard was caught bringing it in concealed in hollowed-out bars of soap.

MarkApril 16, 2008 10:07 AM

@Shane
Drug laws simply create criminals out of ordinary citizens, and create incredibly wealthy and powerful drug smuggling kingpins out of two-bit thugs.

They also create powerful people on the law enforcement. As well as it being the case that people who are ment to be enforcing a law can cause all sorts of trouble if they decide to break it instead.

AndrewApril 16, 2008 3:34 PM

If you get the best prison guards money can buy, you get the kind of people who are motivated by money.

If you get prison guards who are dedicated and believe in rehabilitation, they do embarrassing things like complain to the district attorney and the courts, write scathing letters to the media and books for publication, and/or quit in disgust.

If you hire cheap prison guards, you again get what your money is paying for . . . and corruption becomes even more rampant.

Where's the victory condition in this scenario?

Felix DzerzhinskyApril 16, 2008 8:27 PM

I used to be a Custodial Correctional Officer in Australia. I don't recall any officers who were done for corruption. Though we did have a strange case of the Officer who was the rangemaster for the pistol club who went to another state to do armed robberies with his brother. That was more of a psycho-adrenalin thing I think where he was doing the robberies for fun. He got locked up.

It has to be said we were relatively well paid in our state so the incentive for corruption was not there.

In my experience most of our security problems came from an element in the Program staff (counsellors, psychologists, etc) who were sypathetic to criminals.

I want to be clear that group was a minority.

If you allow contact visits there will be drugs in prison. If you can touch someone you can pass drugs.

Matt from CTApril 17, 2008 7:34 PM

Legalize drugs:

1) It's silly to ban inanimate objects, when what we object to is how they're used. Doesn't matter whether it's a cryptography protocol, a firearm, or something you ingest.

2) It is likely you'll see more people and more frequent use, at least initially.

3) Personal violence may increase, at least with some of the people and some of the drugs.

That is then the perview of the courts -- probation, location monitoring while on probation, mandatory treatment and testing regimes, etc; which if violated land you in custodial treatment.

4) Criminal violence -- between the gangs and such -- will decrease.

6) Long term, it's likely overall use will decline by regulatory and social pressure -- like the current attacks on tobacco and alcohol. Fewer people smoke, and fewer people drive drunk.

Herman ZimmerApril 21, 2008 11:00 AM

Since mobile phones are responsible for a significant amount of drug traffic in prisons, I believe there is an easy remedy.

There is an Israeli manufacturer of a phone service blocker. Since it is a transmitter prohibited by FCC regulations in the USA, it is not sold here. An exception could be made for prisons. Neither staff or inmates would be able to use their phones. Landlines could be monitored. Viola ! !

AsrellimJanuary 16, 2009 2:52 AM

I think we should legalize drugs but not in prisons unless there's a medical reason (that includes getting rid of the tobacco). I know a way to keep prisoners off of drugs. Take away their money. There's no reason for prisoners to have spending money and if they don't have spending money there's no reason anyone would find it worth their while to bring them drugs.

Clive RobinsonJanuary 16, 2009 3:50 AM

@ Asrellim,

"There's no reason for prisoners to have spending money and if they don't have spending money there's no reason anyone would find it worth their while to bring them drugs."

Both your points are wrong.

Supposadly the purpose of prison these days is rehabilitation back to society, hence prison work is supposed to be part of the process.

Most people will not work for no benifit unless coerced to do so. Further unless they can realise the benifit in a fairly short term they will not see it as a benifit.

Further in order to keep the lid on prisons where people are locked up for excessive periods because "we the people" do not fund the prisons sufficiently, prisoners have to have distractions.

In the past books and magazines where considered sufficient, however due to underfunded eduction few inmates these days will be distracted by books. They can and are distracted by work, radios, TVs and electronic games. Further these can and are used as barganing tools by the prison officers to maintain control over the prison population that vastly out numbers them.

To be able to aquire these a prisoner should earn them not just by good behaviour but also by work. Therefor they should be alowed to chose their own form of distraction available within their means.

With regards to purchasing drugs, few prisoners would be able to earn suficient from prison work to support a drug habit based on street prices.

In several countries studies have found that the drugs are paid for by others such as the prisoners friends and relatives external to the prison.

It is very unlikley that what you suggest will result in anything except increased tension and violence in prisons that "we the people" have chosen to insufficiently fund, and therfore do not have the manpower or resources to maintain adiquate control.

christieApril 16, 2010 11:57 PM

this was a very interesting read. i was searching the web for info on a paper i have to write how and why drugs get in the prisons. alot of this makes perfect since. but america was built on genrating money.
old money most of the people from old money have done things that were not against the law at the time to get there wealth and when seen how fast and easy it was to get they made laws white laws. ex: the american royal family kennedys rockafella.
money is the root to all evil. and these people make money in a evil way. that what its all about the american dream.

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