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Facts: Hustlers

Inmates Cleveland Watson (left) and Morgan Corley (right) talking in the SMU (Special Management Unit) at Hays State Prison in Trion, Georgia. Corley is serving his second stint at Hays and was once the biggest meth dealers in the South.

Inmates Cleveland Watson (left) and Morgan Corley (right) talking in the SMU (Special Management Unit) at Hays State Prison in Trion, Georgia. Corley is serving his second stint at Hays and was once the biggest meth dealers in the South. (View larger version)

Photograph by Derek Bell

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  • Contraband cellphones being smuggled into prison populations are an increasing problem nationwide. They allow inmates to communicate with people outside of the prison, possibly for illegal purposes. Cellphones can enter prisons through multiple alleys: hidden in food packages or smuggled in by bribed correctional officers.

  • In 2007, the Georgia Department of Corrections estimated that 300 inmates entered the system for meth-related crimes every month – 6 times as many as did in 2002.

  • The R.I.C.O., or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute was initiated in 1970 targets illicit interstate or foreign transactions.

  • In 1996, Commissioner Wayne Garner instated a policy of statewide prison "shakedowns", in which prison tactical squads conducted unannounced facility-wide searches of inmate property in an effort to eliminate contraband.

  • Inmates in disciplinary or administrative segregation are locked down 23 hours a day; they receive an hour of time outside each day, which is spent in a fenced-in concrete lot. It is estimated that over 25,000 inmates across the United States spend their time in solitary confinement. The majority of these inmates will spend more than five years in segregation; some spend up to twenty years in segregation.

  • As of 2006, the inmate-to-officer ratio in state and federal prisons is 4.8, up from 4.6, nation-wide. This increase coincides with a 27% increase on assualts between inmates and a 32% increase in inmates' assualts on prison staff.

  • RCI had the 6th highest number of inmate-on-inmate assaults among Ohio's prisons in 2009.

  • There were 879 inmate-on-inmate assaults – and two murders – committed in Ohio prisons in 2009.

  • The Rules Infraction Board heard 235,455 cases for Ohio inmates in 2009. Common conduct violations included: possession of contraband (23,360 violations, 9.9%); disobedience of a direct order (47,260 violations, 20.1%) and being out of place (45,498 violations, 19.3%).

  • Marijuana is the drug of choice in state prisons. Fifteen percent of state prisoners said they were high on marijuana at the time of their offense and forty percent used pot in the month leading up to their crime.

  • Smuggling is common practice in the illegal drug trade. Drug mules are often referred to as "swallowers" or "internal carriers." The practice of internal smuggling is known as "body packing" or "body stuffing." From the time of ingestion, it takes 24 to 72 hours for material to pass through the body.

  • The Ohio Prison System supervised 582,849 visits between inmates and friends and relatives at 32 institutions in 2009. At Ross Correctional Institute, there were 26,286 visits for the 2,547 inmates.

  • In 2009, there 41.65% increase in drug seizures in the Ohio Prison System from the previous year.

  • Cell phones allow inmates in prison to contact friends and family while also giving them the ability to orchestrate crimes. Smuggled cell phones do not only occur in the United States, but worldwide. Cell phones can enter the system with the help of visitors as well as prison employees. Although punishment varies, the ownership of a cell phone behind bars is prohibited in both state and federal facilities in the United States.

  • President Obama signed a law in 2010 which makes cell phone possession a felony in federal prisons, punishable by up to one extra year on an inmate's original sentence.

  • In the first four months of 2010, Federal Bureau of Prisons workers confiscated over 1,000 cell phones.

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