The FBI’s prison corruption initiative, which began in June 2014, addresses contraband smuggling by local, state, and federal prison officials in exchange for bribe payments. Through this initiative, the Bureau works to develop and strengthen collaborative relationships with state/local corrections departments and the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Inspector General to help identify prison facilities plagued with systemic corruption and employ appropriate criminal investigative techniques to combat the treat. Prison officials and staff being co-opted, even if unwittingly, betrays the public trust, threatens the integrity of the justice system in the U.S., and threaten national security interests overall.
Schemes to corrupt prison officials come in a variety of forms, including:
- Testing: An offer of simple items, like prison commissary goods, is made to prison officials. If accepted, the inmate confirms the official’s administrative misstep, then urges the official to smuggle contraband under threat of reporting the official’s misconduct.
- Active recruiting: Civilian gang members with no prior criminal history are recruited by incarcerated gang members to apply to become correctional officers, with promises of additional income paid by the inmates’ criminal enterprise.
- Empathy: Prison inmates study corrections personnel working in the facility and determine whether particular staff members are susceptible to exploitation. This ploy typically results in improper interpersonal relationships and the corrupted official’s integrity being compromised to the benefit of the inmate.