Gum is definitely not allowed for inmates. It can be used to jam locks, ruin the floors, and other not-so-good stuff. So, when you suspect an inmate of having gum, you look for it.
I had noticed one inmate always seemed to be chewing gum. I saw her chewing at her job as well as walking on the compound. But of course, when I questioned her, there was nothing. Another officer had also seen her chewing while she worked. A counselor had noticed her chewing in the lunch line.
So we started to search. We searched her bunk area. We searched her work area. We searched her rec area. We searched all her stuff. Nothing.
Other inmates were getting nervous. Those who work in her area were afraid we would find something there and they might get blamed. Finally, one of her co-workers came to me privately. The co-worker was about to go home and didn't want any trouble. So she told me where I could find the gum.
The inmate's co-worker told me that this inmate was getting the gum during visiting. Specifically, her husband was bringing it in to her. So I came up with a plan. Since I was the visiting officer, I decided that on the next available visiting day, every inmate leaving visiting would get strip searched. (Usually, we are only required to do a small amount strip searched.)
Saturday came along. The husband of the gum chewer had arrived. He was a very nice man. He really seemed to love his wife, despite the fact that she was in prison. They were getting ready to celebrate their 42nd wedding anniversary. I couldn't imagine why they would risk their visiting privilege over gum. He came to see her every weekend.
As the day went on, inmates came in and went. And all who went were subjected to my search. No matter who went out, I got them. I assumed that by the third or fourth one who left, the other inmates had caught on to the searches.
The inmate I suspected was ready to leave. I walked in behind her to the processing room. She assumed the regular position of a pat search. I said no, today was strip search. She freaked a little, said she had to go to the bathroom, and bolted out of the processing room and into the restroom.
There was a restroom area in the processing area.
But I waited. She was in there for a long time. She finally came out and went back into the processing area. She didn't see but, I locked the bathroom as soon as she came out.
I searched her. I found nothing. Surprise. She got dressed and exited.
I went back to the bathroom. I unlocked it and went in and tossed it. At the bottom of the trash can I found a little bag of gum and a little bag of Good & Plenty candies. In another trash can, under the bag, I found a Baby Ruth candy bar.
I called a lieutenant and I wrote the inmate an incident report. The lieutenant came over to get pictures of my finds and to serve the inmate with her incident report.
The inmate was not surprised she got caught. She confessed to the whole thing. She lost her visiting privilege for 6 months. She lost her job, and she lost her room. (She had a nice big corner window room with no roommate. She moved to a smaller, inner room with another inmate.)
I hope it was worth it.