Prison Corruption

The FBI’s prison corruption initiative addresses contraband smuggling by local, state, and federal prison officials in exchange for bribe payments.

Through this initiative, the FBI builds and strengthens relationships with state/local corrections departments and the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Inspector General to identify prison facilities plagued with systemic corruption and to investigate corruption as appropriate.

Prison officials and staff being co-opted, even unwittingly, betrays the public trust, undermines the integrity of the U.S. justice system, and threatens national security interests.

Schemes to corrupt prison officials come in a variety of forms, including:

  • Testing: Prison officials are offered simple items, like prison commissary goods. If the prison official accepts the offer, the inmate confirms the official’s administrative misstep and then urges the official to smuggle contraband under threat of reporting the official’s misconduct.

  • Active recruiting: Civilian gang members with no prior criminal history are recruited by incarcerated gang members to apply to become correctional officers, with promises of additional income paid by the inmates’ criminal enterprise.

  • Empathy: Prison inmates study corrections personnel working in the facility and determine whether particular staff members are susceptible to exploitation. This ploy typically results in improper interpersonal relationships and the corrupted official’s integrity being compromised to the benefit of the inmate.