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Joe Bouchard Contraband and communications
with Joe Bouchard

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10 sensible search tips

There are many little actions and precautions that comprise a successful search

Do you ever think about how you search?

One of the pillars of security in a prison or jail is contraband control. It helps to level the playing field for the ultimate goal of safety for all and takes the power away from enterprising individuals or organized groups who are hell-bent on domination through the economics of scarcity and the practice of coercion.

The search for bootleg is much more than stumbling upon something in an unorganized manner.  There are many little actions and precautions that comprise a successful search.  

Yet no two sets of circumstances are completely alike.  For example, sometimes we need stealth and will perform a covert search.  On the other hand, we sometimes might want to demonstrate that we are actively searching -- so an overt search is in order.

Certainly, searches differ. However, there are common points that all investigations should include, like these 10:

1. Always look before you touch anything – you never know when something  sharp, yet unseen may cut or puncture your skin
2. ALWAYS use gloves
3. Share information of what you find (or don’t find) in the search
4. Be persistent and systematic
5. Use a flash light when available
6. Coordinate search efforts to cover more area in a more efficient manner
7. Utilize mirrors to check under surfaces
8. Know the location of prisoners while you search
9. Don’t despair over minimal contraband finds, and
10. Never stop looking.

Whether you have 20 years in corrections or just 20 minutes, these are tips all can use.  Seasoned corrections staff need reminders from time to time.  Newbies must be introduced to concepts that they might not have encountered in their pre-corrections life. These 10 tips are used by corrections staff use every day in the pursuit of safety.

What is on your sensible search tips list?

About the author

Joe Bouchard writes and presents on many corrections topics. He is a Librarian at Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility within the Michigan Department of Corrections. He is also a member of the Board of Experts for The Corrections Professional, Editor of The Correctional Trainer and MCA Today, and an instructor of Corrections for Gogebic Community College. Bouchard also has online writing clips at You can reach him at (906) 353-7070 ext 1321. He is also the author of the book "Icebreakers III," the third in IACTP's series of training exercises books. Order now.

These are the opinions of Joe Bouchard, a Librarian employed with the Michigan Department of Corrections. These are not necessarily the opinions of the Department. The MDOC is not responsible for the content or accuracy.

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CorrectionsOne or its staff.
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