By: Daniel Harris, Contributing Writer
Everyone’s always shocked to learn that so many drugs are available in prison. But why, I always wonder. It would be more surprising if the lure of easy profits didn’t corrupt so many guards to smuggle them in, given how poorly the guards are paid and how easy the money is.
In many cases, a prisoner gets one of his connections on the outside to give some drugs to a guard he’s agreed to do business with. A guard will make around $300.00 for just walking the package into the facility and delivering it to the prisoner. A package smaller than a fist can contain half a pound of compressed K-2 – a.k.a “synthetic marijuana.” That’s the drug of choice these days because it doesn’t show up in urine or blood tests and dogs aren’t able to sniff it out.
Correction Officers are just as likely as prisoners to be drug addicts and dealers. Just last year, they busted the Field Lieutenant for manufacturing methamphetamines in a lab in his home. He was fired, but he had been working on Eastham [a Texas prison] for years and was surely dealing the drugs he manufactured in his home to his coworkers. The easiest way for a guard to cover their own drug habits is by smuggling drugs into prison for prisoners.
Here are some ideas for solving the problem:
Perimeter security is the key to stopping drugs from entering prison. Regular guards shouldn’t be in control of the prison gates and prison parking lots – that should be turned over to the state police.
If prison guards are in control of perimeter security, it’d have to be an elite force of guards who were rigorously trained for this purpose. This elite force of prison guards would only be answerable to an independent authority – and the guards would have to be continually rotated between prisons in order to prevent fraternizing and to assure guards that they can do their jobs without fear of retaliation by prison officials. This might at least slow down smuggling drugs into prison. Also, prison staff should be required to agree that whenever they are on prison property, they and/or their cars can be searched without cause or warrant, even if it means signing away their legal rights.
X-ray scanners, like those used in airports, would do even more to stop smuggling drugs into prison.
As long as an obese person can shove a package between rolls of fat, in their crotch, under a floppy boob or in the crack of their asses – without any concerns it’ll be found — they’ll keep delivering packages and getting paid. And many guards will go even further by stuffing a package in their vagina or rectum where there is no chance of it being found by a pat search or strip search. Besides, guards are not always searched coming through the gate and if a strip search is requested, they have only to refuse, walk away in a huff, and leave. It’s not even a firing offense to refuse a strip search.
Why are guards allowed to return to their cars repeatedly during their shift to have a cigarette on their breaks?
Once they enter the facility, they should be required to stay inside the prison until their shift is over and they leave for the day. There are break rooms and an Officer’s Dining Hall that provides meals for officers. You’d think they could do without a cigarette until they got off of work. Many times these trips are an excuse for a dirty guard to go back to his car and load up more contraband. Making multiple deliveries in a day increases the profits and nothing says an officer can’t bring in drugs for more than one drop each trip to the car. At $300.00 per drop delivered, the money grows damn quick and becomes irresistible to the greedy.
Smaller packages are often passed at contact visits.
These might be drugs or they might be cash to buy drugs. Cash money can reduce the price of drugs by up to 80% if the dealer needs the cash to bribe officers. (Not having friends and family who visit me makes it impossible for me to understand why anyone would jeopardize future access to visits, as well as their loved one’s freedom, for drugs. Maybe I wouldn’t feel the need to blur the edges of my reality so often if I had access to visits, but I’ll never know.
When I was in prison in Alabama from 1987-1989, all visits were contact and they allowed prisoners to get up and walk around the courtyard with their visitors, unlike Texas where only some prisoners are allowed contact visits and during these visits the prisoner must remain seated. Wives and girlfriends would buy big cigars that came in plastic tubes and cut them down to before packing them with an ounce of marijuana, then slipped the package from their vagina and passed it to their man who would then slip it up his pre-greased rectum. Prescription drugs, mostly Xanax, were brought in the same way – 100 or more pills at a time. We had plenty of pot and pills every weekend.
Some prisoners have visitors bring in drugs packaged in balloons that they then swallow.
After their visit, they drink lots of water so the balloons float up and then they make themselves throw up to get them out. It’s common to have another prisoner smuggle drugs into prison for a percentage of the load. There was a black prisoner who swallowed balloons for some whites, and he thought to run a game on them. So he ate on top of the packages to hold them down. What was this idiot thinking? The whites made him drink gallons of water and when that didn’t work, they mixed up some shampoo water for him to drink. He tried to refuse, until he heard their alternative plan, which was to cut him open and get their dope out that way. He was lucky; the shampoo worked and he managed to throw up 3 of the A balloons he was carrying. Since he got one for carrying they told him he could keep the one inside him. They were satisfied. He was sick.
Even if the perimeter was 100% secure there would still be drugs. Prescription drugs are passed out daily by medical staff.
The Med-Techs that deliver these medications are paid less than the guards doing security and just want to get the job done and go sit down. Prison policy requires that med-techs and the guards providing security take the time to witness the prisoners swallowing their medications, even looking inside the prisoner’s mouth to make sure they have swallowed the pills and not held them under their tongue. Apathy and laziness assures this is seldom done. When my medication is delivered to my cell, they seldom check my I.D. to make sure I’m still in this cell and if I’m asleep when they deliver my medication, I’ll find the paper pill cup with my medication inside stuck through the screen of my cell door window. Following policy wouldn’t really stop anything. All prisoners are here for being convicted criminals. Breaking the rules is what we do. We’ll beat the system 9 times out of 10 by sleight of hand and misdirection to assure some drugs are available.
Many prisoners depend on the money they make selling their medications to survive and have a better quality of life. It’s all some have since they don’t have anyone to send them money to make store — and Texas does not have paid jobs available for the destitute. A single Cogenton [Benztropine] sells for at least .50¢. Zolofts are worth .10¢ per 100 mg. Wellbutrin can sell for as much as $2.00 each; and Afectra sells for at least .50¢ each. Recently I saw a friend buy morphine tablets for $5.00 each. If a prisoner can get the psychiatrist to put him on the right medications, he can make a couple of dollars every day. May not sound like much to you, but I live pretty well here on $25.00 per month allowance provided by a friend.
Alcohol might be the easiest drug to acquire here since we can make it ourselves.
The prison commissary sells both juices and hard candy that is used in the production and all you need is to smuggle a little bit of fruit or tomato paste out of the kitchen to let ferment so you can start the process. Sugar stolen from the kitchen is a hot commodity on the black market and only cost about $1.00 per cup. That’s enough sugar to make half a gallon. Hiding the smell of fermentation is the tricky part, but it can be done. Though I recently got busted for making wine it was only a fluke. I’ve never been caught before and it’s not the first time I ever made a batch.
The preponderance of drugs available in prison is both a curse and a blessing. For those wishing to stay sober, having constant access to alcohol and drugs makes it nearly impossible. On the other hand, for those like myself, drugs are the only hope to blur the edges of despair when the weight of a never-ending prison sentence becomes unbearable.
My fellow prisoners are often swearing they are going to stop doing drugs when they get out of prison while they drink, smoke and pop pills here. They claim they need it for the stress of doing time and won’t need it when they get out. I tell them the hard truth they don’t want to hear. If you can’t stop doing drugs and drinking here you’ll never stop.
No doubt I’m an alcoholic and a drug addict and having drugs constantly available can be a great burden. Sometimes I wish I could live in a place where there were no drugs or alcohol until the weight of my time hears down and the peaceful oblivion beckons. No 12-Step program will ever be enough to overcome those moments of need. Though addiction is surely the main cause of my incarceration my only escape from the pain is to return to the euphoric haze and hope for a better day tomorrow. I’m not alone in my needs and that may be the main reason there will always be drugs in prison.
Daniel Harris is serving 35 years in Texas for Attempted Capital Murder.
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Daniel H. Harris #00622851
3060 FM 3514
Beaumont, TX 77705