Drugs behind bars

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By Kotie Geldenhuys
Photo courtesy of Depositphotos

When Nicholas Ninow, a convicted rapist, addressed the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria in October 2019 in mitigation of sentence, he disclosed that since his arrest in September 2018, he had used drugs on approximately 20 occasions while incarcerated. He told the court about the prevalence of drugs in correctional centres (prisons), stating: “When you are in that cell, there are drugs all around, there are drugs everywhere in prison. There is no rehabilitation in prison” (OFM, 2019). Given that the consumption and distribution of drugs are longstanding criminal offences, the question remains: how are these substances infiltrating prisons which are supposed to be secure facilities?

The dynamics of drug distribution and transactions within correctional centres closely mirror those in the wider society. Nevertheless, within the confines of these centres, the accessibility, promotion and exchange of drugs rely heavily on corrupt correctional staff members, service providers, visitors and innovative inmates.

Drug use by inmates
People who engage in drug use within the community often continue this behaviour during their incarceration. However, the amount and frequency of drug consumption generally decline in correctional centres compared to “outside” as it is influenced by availability, limited resources for obtaining drugs, cost and the fear of getting caught while using drugs (Norman, 2022).


[This is only an extract of an article that is published in Servamus: June 2024. This article is available for purchase.]

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