Don't Risk It! Keeping Drugs Out

Caution

Viewers may find some of the material in this video disturbing or offensive. Although the contents are based on fact, the depictions of drug-use shown are fictitious. Adults are advised not to view this video with children present.

Adults are advised not to view this video with children present.

Transcript for Don't Risk It! Keeping Drugs Out

Correctional Officer
Ma'am, could you please remove all your clothing and give me one item at a time.

Suzanne
What's going to happen to me now?

Correctional Officer
Now open your mouth please... wider.

Tilt your head up. Tilt your head down.

Okay, close your mouth. Now turn around.

Run your fingers through your hair.

Graphic on screen
DON'T RISK IT! Keeping Drugs Out

Narrator

Suzanne Carey is about to get caught with drugs that she was trying to smuggle into a penitentiary.

She didn't think a few pills would put her at risk. Who'd even notice?

The thing is… a federal penitentiary is specifically designed to prevent and catch such attempts at smuggling drugs or other banned items.

Even "just a few pills."

When Suzanne signed in, she also agreed to the screening procedure every visitor must go through.

First, she and her daughter were scanned along with their belongings.

Then, they were checked by an ion scanner, a machine that can detect tiny amounts of drug residues. That's when things started to go badly for Suzanne.

When the scanner detected a positive result for drugs, the scan was repeated and the second test came back positive.

When a drug detector dog team identified the presence of drugs, a correctional manager was called to speak to Suzanne and conduct a threat risk assessment - an analysis of facts which determines how to deal with a visitor suspected of illegal activity.

Correctional Officer
I need you to conduct a threat risk assessment on one of the visitors.

Correctional Manager
OK…

Correctional Officer
We have an ion scan hit, and also a detector dog indication.

Correctional Manager
OK

Suzanne
This is ridiculous. I didn't do anything.

Narrator
When combined with intelligence information on the inmate Suzanne was visiting, as well as the reported intention of her visit, these events were enough for the Correctional Manager to authorize that Suzanne be detained, advised of her right to legal counsel…

and seek authorization from the institutional head to conduct a strip search.

Once the search was conducted, a small amount of pills were found, which were determined to not be a legitimate medication.

Police were then called, as well as Children's Protective Services, to take custody of Suzanne and her daughter.

Suzanne
It's just a couple of pills, man. It's my prescription.

Narrator
With security measures in place, it was highly unlikely that Suzanne would get inside the institution.

But she found that out the hard way and must now suffer the consequences.

Suzanne
What about my daughter? Where is she?

Police Officer
Two staff members are assigned to care for her.

Narrator
Still, it was just a few pills – no big deal, right?

WRONG. To understand why we need to work hard at keeping drugs out, you have to understand the role they play in an institution.

While most inmates participate in work programs for skills training purposes, their modest pay is issued in the form of an institutional credit which can be used for canteen items or non-essential medical services.

Since inmates also cannot bring cash with them when they are imprisoned, drugs are often used as currency for a wide range of goods and services – assuming they aren't kept for personal use.

Offender #1
Dude, I need your help. I need some dope – I need it tonight. Lot of guys are bugging me around here.

Offender #2
It's going to cost you.

Offender #1
I don't care…

Narrator
When combined with the obvious difficulties of bringing contraband into a facility, you can see how drugs can take on an artificially high value.

Suzanne's 20 pills cost about 20 dollars on the outside. But inside, they can be worth up to ten times that amount.

Offender #2
Here's your stuff.

Offender #1
About time. Awesome. Right on!

Narrator
Any inmate with access to drugs becomes an automatic target…

Offender #2
The money's still not there.

Offender #1
Well, you'll have to wait. I told that guy I don't have it.

Offender #2
Listen, get your old lady. Get it in here. Get it in today.

Offender #1
She won't bring it in.

Offender #2
You told me you'd have it today. Now I want it.

Narrator
And in a place where gangs and violence are common, now he's in real danger.

Offender #2
You tell your wife you've got till the end of the day. If I don't get it, you're getting it. Get it?

Offender #1
I GOT IT!

Narrator
You may think you're helping him, but the truth is that you've just painted a big bull's-eye on his chest.

They'll never leave him alone now…

Offender #3
No coppers?

Narrator
That danger goes way beyond extortion and assaults.

As part of our programming to help inmates with issues which contributed to their offences, CSC offers a range of health promotion and education programs to develop healthier habits and combat any addictions.

We're all too aware that drug use leads to very real health hazards like AIDS, hepatitis… addiction… and overdose.

Is it really worth it?

Thérèse Leblanc
Drugs inside our penitentiaries have tremendous impacts. And they have tremendous impacts on the families.

Your loved one is probably getting a lot of pressure, you know, because they're trying to get him to bring the drugs in. And I don't doubt that.

And it's really difficult for you as their family member – their loved one – to say no to that.

But the reality is – if you give in, and if you take that step, the inmate then becomes a mark for everybody.

They know that his family will bring in drugs, so they will pressure him even more the next time, to bring in more drugs.

Offender #2
I want my stuff man. I've been waiting too long. It's been two weeks. Get it together.

Offender #1
I'll do it. Don't worry.

Thérèse Leblanc
You know, my best advice is simply, don't do it.

Offender #2
Want your legs broken asshole? Get your shit together.

Thérèse Leblanc
And if you believe that your loved one is in danger because of that, get in touch with us.

And we will take the steps necessary to protect your loved one, and to deal with those people who are pressuring him.

Bob
Hello.

Mike
Hey, it's me.

Bob
Hey, how's it going?

Mike
Not good. It's the same shit. They were back yesterday… Listen, you think about what I asked?

Bob
Yeah, I've been thinking about it. But I got to tell you… you know, what you're asking me to do here is not very safe.

Mike
It's not for me, you know. I never touch that shit. But these goofs are not going to leave me alone. So, you think you'll bring it?

Bob
Yeah. OK.

Mike
I'm counting on you, bro.

Bob
All right.

Narrator
Mike Jones just asked his brother to commit a criminal offence.

Of course Mike doesn't see it that way, but it's easy to see how this can happen, given the pressure he's under.

But there is another way.

Duty Officer
Correctional Service of Canada, National Drug Tip line. How can I help you?

Bob
Yeah, it's about my brother. He's in one of your institutions. He's been calling me here lately, looking for me to bring drugs into the institution for him.

And I'm not interested in getting involved in any of this stuff… so…

Duty Officer
Well, you did the right thing.

Narrator
Bringing drugs in, even 'just once', simply won't help Mike.

On one hand, if Bob is identified by intelligence as a source of drugs, he could face a range of consequences - including restricted visiting privileges - and if he's caught, he could face arrest and a possible criminal record.

Meanwhile, as the instigator, Mike's security level could be increased, his institutional privileges reassessed. He could face a transfer to another institution, or even have his release delayed.

On the other hand, even if Mike's brother somehow does successfully bring the drugs in, the consequences can be even worse: once Mike proves he can get drugs, gangs and other inmates will see him as a reliable source and do whatever it takes to control him.

As a pawn in a very violent game, Mike will be a target for harassment every single day.

Either way, trying to help your friend or loved one by smuggling drugs means they lose.

So what can you do if someone's pressuring you to do this? TALK TO US!

Speak with the officer in charge of the visiting area, the warden, or any staff member. Or call us on our toll-free drug hotline.

Correctional Officer
So I understand there's some problems?

Narrator
Your call can be anonymous and we will take steps to protect any information we receive.

Bob
I don't want him to get into any more trouble. And I just don't want anything to do with this. So I thought, well, I'd come talk to you. So I'm looking for some advice…

Narrator
If you're being threatened, we can work with the police to help ensure your safety.

If the person you're visiting is being threatened, we can give them protection. Things like adding extra surveillance, separating the aggressors from your friend or loved one.

Even laying charges against the inmates making the threats or transferring them out of the institution.

Risking your freedom and their safety just isn't worth it. When they're asking you to do this, it isn't about helping someone you care for; it's about desperation and manipulation.

If you don't believe us, listen to this:

Sonny
You know, there's many different ways, depending on who it is.

You know, if it's a family member, well then I can use a sob story, I can tell them there's someone that's threatening my life.

I can tell them, you know, they've found your address and they made threats to my family. You know, if I don't bring in some drugs for them or something, well, they're going to go and beat my family on the outside.

They're going to beat me. All sorts of threats. And family members, well, they'll believe you and they'll do what they can so nobody gets hurt.

On the other hand, if it's just some girl that I met on the outside, it's all about the love card. She says 'she loves me, she loves me', then I can say 'yo, if you love me, you don't want to see me hurt.'

And if they don't fall for that, well then you can say, well, bring in some drugs and I'll make you some money. It's easy.

You bring in a couple of grams and stuff, nobody detects it in the front. And on the outside, she gets paid, I get paid. Everybody's happy.

Narrator
Except they will detect it at the front. And nobody will be happy when this is the result…

Male Police Officer
Are you Suzanne Carey?

Suzanne
Yes.

Male Police Officer
Suzanne, I am placing you under arrest for the possession of narcotic for the purpose of trafficking. Do you understand that?

Female Police Officer
I'll be taking custody of your child, and holding her in a safe place until a representative of the Children's Aid Society arrives.

Come with me please...

Child
No.

Female Police Officer
It's OK sweetie, you can come with me.

Suzanne
Where are you taking her?

Narrator
What will happen to Suzanne for "just trying to help"?

She'll be taken to the nearest police station to be photographed and fingerprinted.

If prosecuted and found guilty she will now have a criminal record, and could face fines, plus a jail sentence of her own for up to ten years.

If there's no one else to care for her daughter, she'll be placed in foster care.

It's a very steep price for "just a few pills".

It's your choice. A choice that will affect the rest of your life.

To talk to us about suspected drug activity, speak with a staff member or call us at 1 866 780 3784.

Correctional Service Canada is grateful to all of the individuals who participated in the production of this video.