Impact Georgia Impact Georgia Special Edition | Page 2

By Lisa Rodriguez-Presley L ast year, Georgia was in the national news when an attempt was made to fly contraband over the fence at a facility utilizing an aerial drone. While the method was unique, the problem itself is not new. Contraband in prison is an issue officials have dealt with since the inception of our correctional system. It’s a continual battle to keep items such as tobacco products, drugs and, most recently, cellphones out of prison facilities, and the methods of smuggling these items in are constantly evolving. The Georgia Department of Corrections’ response to the problem is evolving as well, with staff combatting the problem using the latest technology and training. For the average citizen the scope of the problem is difficult to grasp. On its face, it seems to be a simple issue to solve. You have people living in a controlled environment, behind bars and fences with people to guard them. Why then, is it so difficult to keep contraband out of the hands of inmates? According to Ricky Myrick, Director of the Office of Professional Standards for the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC), the answer is simple – money. Contraband is a lucrative business in prison, with cell phones in particular fetching prices of $500 - $1,000 per phone. To those doing the smuggling, whether they are an inmate or a staff member, the risk of getting caught can be outweighed by the potential financial reward. As a smuggler, when you’re taking an item inside you only have This dsplay representts a small portion of the cell phones seized from inmates in Georgia Prison Facilities in 2011. 2