For starters, the blog Texas Prison Bidness informs us that private prisons have contraband smuggling problems, too, while the Houston Chronicle published an interesting story about how cell phones are smuggled into supposedly secure facilities.
The Austin Statesman reports that searches have been expanded to staff leaving prisons as well as those entering them:
The same story has this astonishing tidbit letting us know that nearly 1/3 of the state's cell phone smuggling problem occurs in one unit:
At first, everyone going into Texas prisons was being searched as part of a massive contraband sweep. On Friday afternoon, officials ordered everyone leaving to be searched, too.
The reason: At one Beaumont prison, officials reportedly found guards carrying out cell phone chargers — presumably to keep inmates from getting caught with them.
With more than 2,800 convicts and 776 employees, the Stiles Unit has the worst problem with smuggled cell phones. Since January, 180 cell phones have been seized there, of the more than 600 statewide, according to agency statistics.We also hear more about employees' negative reaction to new policies:
At some prisons, officials who didn't have permission to speak publicly said the pat searches are triggering dozens of grievances and formal complaints, including some in which female employees alleged that male searchers improperly touched their breasts. At others, employees have complained they are not being allowed to bring in lunches and other personal items they had previously, said Brian Olsen, executive director of a labor union that represents some Texas correctional officers.Another story from the Dallas News gave some interesting data on Texas prison contraband that surprised me, particularly the very low totals for the number of weapons found system-wide:
|Prohibited cell phone||484||743|
|Prohibited weapon (such as shanks and razor blades)||10||8|
|*Through Oct. 20|
Of course, not all contraband is harmful, even if it's prohibited. The same News story was accompanied by this photo of a "Prisonopoloy" board game created by a TDCJ inmate that was confiscated four years ago which now is housed in the Texas Prison Museum. It's a pretty impressive artifact: