Countering Threats to Correctional Institution Security

Some threats to correctional institutional security — e.g., violence, escape attempts, contraband — are as old as the institutions themselves, while other threats — e.g., computer hacking, synthetic drugs, cell phones, drones — have evolved with societal and technological changes. Many of these threats present risks to public safety as a whole. In light of the ongoing challenges the corrections sector faces in countering these threats, RAND researchers convened an expert workshop to better understand the challenges and identify the high-priority needs associated with threats to institutional security.

Unfortunately, resource and staffing challenges limit the ability of correctional institutions to adapt to shifts in threats and to adjust security and staffing strategies over time. Furthermore, a perpetual lack of empirical data hampers efforts to effectively develop interventions to address threats. Addressing the research needs and developing the tools and resources — as prioritized by the workshop participants — is one route to providing correctional institutions the support needed to confront security threats going forward.