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Joe Bouchard Contraband and communications
with Joe Bouchard

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2012 year in review: Hunt for these 13 in 2013

A contraband removal checklist

What’s in a number? For those who fear the number thirteen, year 2013 is particularly worrisome. Others see no magical properties in numbers themselves or in the changing of a year. I prefer to use the number thirteen as an ironically lucky number. 

In honor of 2013 and in support of those who suffer from triskaidekaphobia, I am offering a list of thirteen contraband items that corrections professionals would be proud remove from circulation in their facility this year. 

Think of it as a scavenger hunt in pursuit of safety.  While some of these items are a rarer find, all are potentially dangers when traced to their full illicit trade value. Can you find and remove one each of these dangerous thirteen in 2013?

1. Cell phone
2. Escape plan
3. Narcotics
4. A spud juice operation
5. Glasses frame altered into a piercing/puncturing weapon
6. Tampered door lock
7. Metal shank
8. Club made from Paper Mache
9. Lock in a sock
10. Key to a code or secret language
11. Super bowl betting slip
12. Contraband concealed in the arm pit pad of a crutch
13. Legal tender in any denomination

Facilities could actually make a game of this, if properly sanctions by the powers that be.  Perhaps the first staff member who has found and documented of all thirteen items can win a prize from the facility’s employee club. Another possibility is that the facility can sponsor an award for the distinction.

Even if it is not a friendly competition, each item removed from circulation represents a higher level of safety for everyone. Contraband control is the foundational power of maintaining a safe facility.  

The number thirteen is not a curse. There is no magic number!  But, all contraband is potentially dangerous or is tied to additional danger.  You will no doubt agree with that corrections truism, whether you believe in Agents of Fortune or no coincidences. All corrections staff know that any number of contraband items removed from circulation is a lucky number for the side of safety.

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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