Now don’t get me wrong when I say that I can see some merit in allowing prison inmates to smoke pot. They have little or nothing to do all day, and if pot keeps them calm, then at least they can pass their days in ‘stoned tranquility’. Of course, it would be better if there actually were rehabilitation programs for them.
Neither would I oppose the use of cell-phones in prison, not that I approve of cell-phone use in any public place. They are a bloody nuisance. But if prisons could rent out phones or sell ‘top ups’ in the tuck shop, it would provide a welcome source of funding for other activities.
In any prison, in any part of the world, there would seem to be two overriding concerns: how to keep the prisoners from getting out, and how to keep contraband from getting in. Prisoners would include all those who were held in prison before or after sentencing. Contraband would include all items and goods prohibited by the authorities from entering the prison.
If prisons were to limit the number of substances and items that were classed as contraband, then a lot of inconvenience could be avoided, and no one would be tempted to smuggle stuff in.
Apart from falling as manna from heaven, contraband, such as narcotics and cell phones, can end up in any prison in a number of ways. It can be thrown over the perimeter fence either to a specific recipient, or as a gesture of general goodwill to the inmates, in the hope that the officers who patrol the perimeter or keep a watchful eye on inmates in the recreation areas will not notice the missiles flying through the air over double lines of 20-foot-fencing 15 feet apart.
Once the contraband has landed safely in the recreation areas, it might be secreted about the person of an inmate in a shirt and shorts and lobbed over yet another fence to an adjoining recreation area for dissemination, again whilst carefully avoiding the ever-diligent supervision of the officers in charge.
Another way of getting contraband in would, of course, be by having a female relative stuff a couple of kilos of hash up her knickers and hope the guards whose job it is to frisk all visitors would have the delicacy not to prod the obviously budding fetus too intrusively. There would undeniably be a slight problem in the visiting room because visitor and inmate are usually separated by a thick glass partition, but here again, any enterprising female could probably stick her hands up her knickers, pull out a packet of goodies and lob it over the partition before even the alertest of officers would have a chance of spotting what was happening. The vanishing baby-to-be could easily be shrugged off with a casual, “another bloody miscarriage” as the visitor left the facility a couple of pounds lighter.
Sometimes, of course, visitors and inmates sit across from each other at tables with no partitions, which makes the transfer of goods, the making of payments and the signing of receipts, much easier. The brazen approach is best; no officer in his right mind would ever suspect that anything underhand or untoward was going on if the transactions were conducted in broad daylight for all to see.
Then there is the ticklish problem of trying to get an officer to bring the stuff in for you. Despite all the publicity surrounding cases of officers being “caught in the act”, as it were, there will always remain a good deal of doubt about an officer’s intention to actually import and disseminate contraband within the prison walls. Children, it seems, are forever hiding cell phones in the bottom of bags and covering them with layers of other stuff; people who pack lunches somehow carelessly leave a pound or so of hash under sandwiches with no regard to the embarrassment that might arise due to their negligence. Prison officers, who already spend their working hours on high alert, ever mindful of the risks that contraband might pose, also have to maintain a level of Ever-Ready-Bunny watchfulness with all those they come in contact with in the outside world lest they unwittingly fall victim to playful pranks by people with a spare kilo or so of hash, or a cell phone going begging, that they need to offload on an unsuspecting officer who might unwittingly wander in prison with it.
But thankfully, there are always politicians or lawyers who are willing to protect the rights of long-suffering, under-appreciated servants of the people mystically possessed of contraband in some form. Now if ‘harmless’ contraband suddenly became ‘respectable’ some lawyers might lose a few clients, but the world would be a more peaceful place.
Just recently, I heard of a number of public servants – it matters not where they were working – who had been on “suspension” with full pay whilst awaiting their hearings, were returned to work with the motivation that the long period of time that had elapsed since the alleged infringement or misbehavior supposedly occurred, meant that it would be difficult for them to receive a fair hearing – all was forgiven and forgotten, it would seem.
Now try telling that to inmates on remand, some of whom have been waiting for a trial for years and years – maybe they should be released too! On some farms, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” as Napoleon the Pig put it.