Hire a Lawyer for Your Prison Contraband in Federal Prison Charges
Contraband is described as banned materials “which can reasonably be expected to cause physical injury or adversely affect the security, safety, or good order of the institution” according to the United States Criminal Code.
The most common items classified as contraband include drugs, weapons, tobacco, money, cell phones, and other electronic devices.
According to Federal Bureau of Prisons data, possession of a cell phone or smartphone is the most common, spanning between 2012 and 2014, with nearly 9,000 phones recovered by guards within those two years alone.
With the continuing rise of technology, the assumption is the number of illicit smartphones in prisons has only increased since then.
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What Is Prison Contraband?
Almost anything that incarcerated people could trade, alter, or use to escape may be considered contraband by correctional guards. Prison contraband is any item the law does not allow prisoners to have while incarcerated.
Furthermore, if prison wardens deem an item a safety threat in the facility, they can add such items to the contraband list outside of the federally mandated rules. Contraband can be nearly any item, from weapons to several types of food.
What Is Considered a Contraband Offense?
Charges of contraband-based offense could apply to both incarcerated people and others who are not residents of a federal facility. Also, charges could apply to friends or family members that provide an incarcerated person with a prohibited object.
Incarcerated people and their friends and families should be aware of every item that could be considered contraband.
List of Prohibited Objects
Under the United States Criminal Code, prohibited items include a firearm or other lethal devices. Additionally, every illicit controlled substance, including those in the Drug Enforcement Agency’s controlled substances list, is prohibited within a prison facility.
Other substances, like alcohol and tobacco, are also banned within detention centers.
Prohibited items include any communication device like phones or iPads unless part of a program initiated by the prison facility. For instance, some facilities allow the usage of approved electronic devices for educational or reintegration preparedness purposes.
Finally, nearly anything can be considered contraband. Correctional officers have the discretion to determine if any object is a security threat or would jeopardize facility safety.
What Are the Penalties for Violating Contraband Rules?
If you are convicted of either offering a prohibited item to an incarcerated person or if you are apprehended with contraband while incarcerated, the offenses can be severe.
The fines or jail time could increase depending on the dangerousness of the prohibited item. For instance, if a person has a firearm while incarcerated, they can face up to 20 years of detention. For less dangerous items, the detention periods vary from six months to ten years.
The most challenging aspect of adhering to contraband rules is that some items seem genuinely benign. For instance, contraband rules prohibit many types of food. The rationale is that the foods could contain other dangerous objects, like razors or other small weapons.
Suppose you want to provide food for drinks for incarcerated family members. In that case, it is a better option to add value to their books so that incarcerated people can purchase from prison facility commissaries when available.
How Does Contraband Enter Prison Facilities?
Understanding how contraband enters correctional facilities is essential to ensure that an incarcerated person does not fall victim to possessing a prohibited item.
For instance, a Prison Policy Initiative study reviewed thousands of news stories from 2018 and found that “almost all” contraband in local jails is provided by correctional facility staff to the population.
While certainly not applicable to every incident, understanding what is allowable and not allowed is vital to ensure compliance with facility rules and federal law.
Federal Contraband Charges
Facing federal prison contraband charges is a severe accusation regardless of whether you are already incarcerated or facing charges due to supplying a friend or family member with a prohibited item.
Always be sure to review prison facility guidelines for allowable objects and all federal laws relating to prohibited objects. If you are facing an inquiry about possession of or providing contraband, visit a local defense attorney to understand how to move through the situation with minimal uncertainty.
If convicted of charges relating to contraband, you could face years in prison and copious fines and fees. Remember that while most prohibited items are specifically listed and clear – like firearms or illegal drugs – other banned items can be contraband depending on the correctional officer’s discretion.
Hire a Federal Lawyer for Your Prison Contraband Charges
If you’re facing federal charges relating to prison contraband possession, we can help. At the Zoukis Consulting Group, our defense lawyers will build strong cases against your charges so your rights are fully represented.
Call our experts today for an initial consultation.
Published Feb 15, 2022 by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA | Last Updated by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA on Jun 26, 2023 at 1:40 pm