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Prison Gang and Drug Investigations: An Ohio Approach

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Magazine Volume: 68 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2006 Pages: 36-38,40
Reginald A. Wilkinson; Anthony Delgado
Date Published
April 2006
4 pages
This article describes the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's (ODRC's) strategy for combating the smuggling of contraband, mainly drugs, into prison.
Contraband smuggling into prisons is a significant disruption of an ordered and constructive prison regime. Such smuggling requires organization both within prison and in community suppliers of drugs and other contraband. Such an inmate organization, which can be called a gang, aspires to control the prison economy. This leads to an expansion of illegal activity, gang control of a larger portion of the prison population, and an undermining of the goals of inmate treatment and skill-building programs. Gang members who participate in illegal activities while incarcerated decrease their chances of being law-abiding citizens upon release. One of the requirements of successfully countering drug smuggling into prisons is that the smuggling enterprise both outside and within the prison be addressed. This requires the sharing of information and the coordination of action between community and prison investigative resources. The ODRC addressed this issue by forming a full-time, two-person investigative unit, which began operating in March 2003. Referred to as the Enforcement Unit, it is composed of a parole officer and an institution investigator. This unit has increased the level of gang investigations in and outside prisons as well as the amount of intelligence developed on drug smuggling. The unit was tested on a few cases that focused on identifying threats within prison and developing them further with inmate informants who were released. These cases resulted in staff arrests for attempting to bring drugs into correctional facilities. The goal of the unit is to be an investigative resource for the correctional institutions, community supervision, and law enforcement agencies. The core competency of the unit is informant development and management. A case study is presented.