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Drug Abuse in Correction Facilities


The federal government has established correction facilities in various parts of the United States. These facilities are used for correcting convicted individuals. “Criminal justice refers to the system of justice and institutions of governments directed at upholding social control, deterring and mitigating crime, or sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties and rehabilitation efforts” (Schmalleger, 2010).

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Correction facilities have been fairly successful in mitigating crime in society. However, they have been experiencing some challenges which have affected their efficiency. Drug abuse has been one of the major challenges facing correction facilities (Mc Vie, 2001). The drug problem can be discussed as follows.

Drug abuse in Correction Facilities

Drug abuse is a common vice in our societies and this problem has been extended to the correction facilities. “Drug abuse refers to a maladaptive pattern of use of a substance that is not considered dependent” (Mc Vie, 2001). Substance abuse is prevalent in so many correction facilities found in different countries, and it is therefore raising international concern. The federal correction facilities have also been adversely affected by drug abuse-related challenges. “The drugs abused in these facilities range from alcohol to hard drugs like cocaine and heroin” (Schmalleger, 2010).

Causes of Drug abuse in Correction Facilities

Several factors account for drug abuse in the prisons and they include the following. Correction officers have noted that most of the individuals who have been incarcerated had been using illegal drugs for some time. “Upon admission to federal custody, almost seventy percent of the federal offenders are assessed as having some level of substance abuse problem requiring intervention” (Mc Vie, 2001). Many people always go to these facilities and this makes it very complicated to curb the flow of drugs into the facilities.

Criminal gangs have now extended their presence in prisons. This has enhanced the coordination of drug deals within the facilities. Drugs fetch good returns to the dealers who supply their inmate clients. Hence they try to safeguard their deals to stay in the business. The high demand for drugs has been created by many inmates who rely on drugs. It has also been noted that some staff members serving in these facilities aid the distribution process by providing immunity to the dealers. “This further aggravates the whole situation hence it is difficult to solve this problem” (Mc Vie, 2001).

Effects of Drug Abuse in Correction Facilities

Drug abuse in the correction centers has led to so many problems within and outside the facilities. For example, there have been many cases of fights among individuals who supply the inmates with drugs. This is because they all want to dominate the chain of drug supply to the prisons. Many inmates have been engaging in violence because of drug abuse.

For example, some of them have tried to kill their colleagues and this is closely associated with the use of drugs. “The dramatic rise in the number of prisoners suffering from infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis in the past decade is linked in large measure with substance abuse practices” (Mc Vie, 2001). Correction institutions are also becoming quite unsafe due to the issue of drugs. Last but more importantly, the issue of drugs has crippled the capacity of these institutions to fully rehabilitate the convicts.

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Recommendations and Implementation

The following recommendations can be used to solve this issue. The inmates should be allowed to use some contraceptives. “This can help in reducing the spread of communicable diseases” (Mc Vie, 2001). This can be implemented by regularly supplying them with items such as bleaching kits. Counseling sessions should be enhanced in these facilities.

This would help in educating the inmates about health issues associated with drug abuse. In this case, properly organized seminars can be used regularly to teach the inmates. “Security is another area that should be given serious consideration” (Schmalleger, 2010). Some correction facilities still use poor security systems and they need to adopt modern security management strategies. For example, they should install modern security equipment that would enhance surveillance. They can use drug dogs to check on the presence of drugs in the facilities.

Urinalysis tests should be introduced in many prisons. This can be done to help in identifying the inmates who use these drugs. The inmates who are found guilty through this process should be interrogated for them to give more information about the drugs. “ION scanners are very effective in helping to detect the presence of or exposure to drugs” (Mc Vie, 2001).

It can therefore be used for screening purposes especially when people enter the correction facilities. Such checks should be conducted on everyone including the staff members. Correction facilities should work closely with other institutions to help in solving this problematic issue.


The correction facilities are likely to lose their role of correcting inmates if serious measures are not adopted to make them effective. The government should therefore be very keen on ensuring that high standards are maintained in correction institutions. “This can only be achieved through proper strategies and long term commitment” (Schmalleger, 2010). Some people argue that these facilities should be rehabilitated before they can be used for rehabilitation. I tend to concur with them because of the above-discussed issue.


Mc Vie, F. (2001). Drugs in federal correction-The issues and challenges. Forum on corrections research: Focusing on alcohol and drugs, 13, 1-4.

Schmalleger, F. (2010). Criminal justice today: an introductory text for the 21 st century. New York: Prentice-Hall.

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