The data obtained by The Sun contains details of 2,444 separate seizures at the province’s nine federal prisons.
That’s more seizures than there are prisoners (roughly 1,900) and works out to more than two seizures a day.
The seizures include “contraband” items, such as drugs and weapons, as well as “unauthorized” items, which include everything from Fig Newtons to raw chicken.
Hackett said Corrections has taken several steps —such as using drug-sniffing dogs and ion scanners that detect narcotic residue on visitors’ clothing — to reduce the amount of contraband getting into B.C.’s prisons.
And to address one of the most prevalent smuggling problems — “throw overs” at perimeter fences — several B.C. prisons have built new guard towers, said Hackett.
Not surprisingly, weapons, drugs and alcohol are the most common items seized.
There were 259 weapons seized from federal prisoners since 2008, the data shows, including 186 knives as well as a reciprocating saw blade, two padlocks stuffed in a pillow case, two pencils taped together and a rock tied in a sock.
Comparing the number of seizures at each facility to prisoner counts, Kent, the province’s lone maximum-security facility, had by far the highest rate of weapon seizures, with 131 for its 258 prisoners, three times the rate of any other prison in the province.
Hackett said that’s not surprising, since Kent “houses our most violent guys.”
Drugs and alcohol — classified as “intoxicants” in the database — were also a common item, with 384 seizures of drugs, 285 of drug paraphernalia and 55 of alcohol.
Marijuana was the most common intoxicant seized, at 93, followed by heroin (6, “pills” (67) and “brew” (52).
Brew refers to alcohol made by prisoners, fermented from anything from apples to ketchup packets.
Matsqui and Mission, both medium-security prisons in the Fraser Valley, had the most intoxicant seizures per capita, something Hackett said he couldn’t explain.
Aside from weapons and intoxicants, “debt sheets,” used by inmates to keep track of everything from gambling debts to traded goods, were one of the most seized items, with more than 60 such seizures during the three-year period.
Cellphones were also common, with more than 30 phones seized as well as a number of accessories, including SIM cards and at least one “homemade cellphone charger.”
The data also reveals a surprising number of food seizures.
Inmates are typically allowed to keep small canteen items, such as chips and pop, in their cell but are not permitted large quantities of food.
Included in the list of seized items are one kilogram of bacon, seven pounds of rice, a case of Fig Newton cookies, four pounds of raw chicken in a plastic bag and two bags of fully cooked food including a turkey breast, stuffing and cranberries.
Other strange seizures listed in the data include a brand-new Michelin snow tire, a “Nazi calendar,” two winning scratch-and-win tickets, a laser pointer and a crab trap.
The data obtained by The Sun includes all items seized from inmates, including from cells, common areas and physical searches.
Complete list of items seized from Oct 2008 to Oct 2010 can be found here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/...hl=en_US#gid=0 (external - login to view)