U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Contraband and Interdiction Modalities Used in Correctional Facilities

NCJ Number
Date Published
37 pages

This report describes research on contraband in US jails and prisons, as well as correctional facilities’ strategies for contraband interdiction and removal; it lays out the study’s purpose, background and literature review, study methods and data collection, findings, and implications for criminal justice policy and practice; appendices include NSCC Instrument and Case Study Protocol.


This document provides a technical summary report of the Urban Institute’s research on contraband in jails and prisons in the United States, as well as the interdiction strategies that correctional agencies use to prevent, detect, and removed contraband from their facilities. The study employed a mixed-methods design which consisted of field testing the National Survey of Correctional Contraband (NSCC) in the six state Departments of Correction, and conducting in-depth case studies in 11 prisons and jails, including facility walk-throughs, observations, and semi-structured interviews with correctional facility leadership and staff. Key findings are organized based on four themes: entry points; interdiction strategies; prevalence of contraband; correlates of contraband levels. The summary concludes with a discussion of the implications of key findings for criminal justice policy and practice, as well as recommendations for future research on contraband issues and interdiction strategies.

Date Published: January 1, 2024