Director Frakes Outlines Contraband Control and Detection Tactics

Director Frakes Outlines Contraband Control and Detection Tactics


CONTACT Dawn-Renee Smith, Communications Director

OFFICE 402-479-5713 |

July 28, 2017 (Lincoln, Neb.) – Today, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) outlined tactics they are utilizing to operate safe and drug-free institutions for staff, inmates and visitors.

“As I talk to my peers across the country, I am reminded that Nebraska is not alone in the fight to stop the flow of contraband,” said Director Scott R. Frakes. “More than 80 percent of Nebraska prisoners have some level of substance abuse issues. Nebraska has been taking proactive steps to control and detect the introduction of contraband in our correctional facilities.” 

Contraband control efforts have been stepped up in recent weeks.

Last week, a visitor was observed passing drugs to an inmate. Staff members confiscated the drugs and notified the State Patrol. The visitor was subsequently arrested. This week, with the help of numerous sources of intelligence, NDCS located a cell phone and drugs in an inmate’s cell. In the last month, contraband has been thrown over the fence on three occasions.

Frakes added, “Our team is continuously identifying new strategies to prevent the introduction of contraband inside NDCS facilities. Efforts include a combination of thorough searches, the use of canines, intelligence gathering and accountability.”

NDCS is employing a variety of strategies to prevent the introduction of contraband. Some of those tactics are outlined here:


  • Facility: Routine room searches, common area searches, recreation yard searches, building searches, perimeter ground, etc. (includes metal detectors when appropriate).
  • Inmate:  Routine/frequent pat searches, strip searches, random/targeted cell searches consistent with policy.
  • Inmate/Visitors/Staff: Random use of hand-held metal detectors and walk-through metal detectors.
  • Inmate/Visitor/Staff:  Canine assisted searches (routine and targeted).
  • Visitor:  Pat searches prior to admission.
  • Visitor/Staff:  Search of all belongings prior to admission (may include use of metal detector).
  • Staff:  Unannounced searches including pat searches and vehicle searches.
  • Mail (all letter, packages) searched for contraband.


  • Four canine units:
    • Nebraska State Penitentiary
    • Community Corrections Center – Lincoln
    • Tecumseh State Correctional Institution
    • Omaha Correctional Center
    • Searches for other facilities/programs completed as assigned.
  • Partner with law enforcement teams to conduct large-scale searches.


These include hand-held metal detectors, walk-through metal detectors, X-ray machines and cameras.


The intel team provides useful information to search teams and coordinates with external agencies to share and manage intelligence information. It allows for a more systematic/strategic approach to contraband control and detection. 


Multiple camera systems have been added to NDCS facilities over the course of the past several years. The primary value of cameras is to provide additional intelligence/evidence after an issue has been identified, although there are occasions when individuals are observed in the act of committing a rule violation.


Urinalysis testing is a key part of NDCS’ contraband control strategy.

Inmate: the on-going drug testing program includes random and intensive testing of the population.

Staff: the employee drug testing program includes pre-employment testing and random testing of all employees.

In addition to these detection efforts, NDCS is committed to assisting law enforcement with fully investigating and prosecuting individuals who introduce or attempt to introduce contraband into agency-managed facilities. Inmates, visitors and staff members who bring in or are in possession of contraband will be held accountable and will be referred to law enforcement to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.


Inmate Accountability:

  • Inmates are subject to misconduct reports and are considered for restrictive Housing (Immediate Segregation/Longer-Term Restrictive Housing) if contraband is discovered.
    • If found guilty of rule violation, sanctions may include loss of good time, restriction (room, telephones, visits, recreation, personal property, etc.), and extra duty. 
    • Custody Reclassification/Facility Transfer may be considered (based on quantity, type, circumstances, etc).
    • Dependent on quantity, type, circumstances; consultation with the State Patrol to determine if such is referred for prosecution.

Visitor Accountability: 

  • All drugs and significant contraband introduction/attempted introduction referred for prosecution.
    • At a minimum, subject to visitation restriction (time frame discretionary decision; may be indefinite).

Staff Accountability:           

  • Subject to Statement of Charges for rule violation – sanction may include disciplinary suspension and termination.
    • All incidents of significant contraband, drugs, cellphone introduction/attempted introduction referred for prosecution.

“Continuous improvement of monitoring strategies and techniques is needed to ensure staff are adequately trained, complacency does not occur, and contraband is prevented from entering our facilities,” added Director Frakes. “These contraband control and detection efforts are key to helping us fulfill our mission to keep people safe. Nebraskans can be confident that the team of dedicated professionals working in the state’s 10 prisons are not only aware of this issue, but are addressing it proactively.”