It takes hundreds of millions of tax dollars for prison contractors to build prisons strong enough to keep societies most dangerous criminals locked up. In order to achieve this, prisons must be built with tons of iron, razor-wire fence, mesh and concrete. The same steel used to lock up criminals is the same metal convicts use to make deadly ice picks known as shanks.
HOW A PRISON SHANK IS MADE
The prison shank is made out of the cylindrical wire of a fence, mop bucket handle or any similiar material commonly found in prison. Offenders obtain of steell by bending and breaking wire off fences or other metal enclosures. They twist the metal back and forth until it warps and eventually breaks free. Once in possession of a piece of metal offenders use the concrete of a floor to sharpen the tip until it is sharp enough to penetrate human flesh. They then rip a strip off of their bed sheets and make a lever for their weapon.
A PRISON GANGS FAVORITE WEAPON
A shank is a prison gang member’s weapon of choice. 60% of prison assaults and murders are carried out with a shank. The crude device is just as effective as an ice pick and puncture wounds caused by a shank are always grave. Victims stabbed with a shank undergo critical internal bleeding. Inner bleeding generally causes a victims internal organs to shut down due to severe blood clotting. Many shank victims choke on their own blood, and those who are fortunate enough to survive spend their lives suffering from organ failure.
A CHALLENGING TASK
Prison officials have made it an effort in keeping prisoners
from gaining access to shanks and other dangerous weapons, but that poses
an extremely challenging task.
“Shanks will always be a problem inside prison. Prisoners always find new ways of breaking metal off of everything from fence and mop bucket handles, to bunks and lockers.” Says H. Ramirez, a correctional officer at the John B. Connally Unit in Kenedy, Texas. “We confiscate an average of 400 shanks a year”. Prisoners found in possession of weapons are now charged with a third degree felony plus enhancement. Unfortunately violent offenders with long prison sentences worry little about receiving additional felony time for weapons possession.
Prison officials are now wearing Stab-Proof vests that resist penetration. These vests are thick enough to resist knife penetration and even protect against .38 special handgun fire. But the vests do not protect the vital area of the neck so officers are trained to protect their necks if attacked. One example of the danger all correctional officers face while on the job was the 1999 murder of TDCJ Correctional Officer Daniel Nagle. Nagle was stabbed 17 times with a 7 inch welding rod by an offender. Prison is a treacherous place and convicts armed with shanks will forever remain a prison curse reality.
Prison gangs encompass Captains, Lieutenants, Sergeants, and foot soldiers.
A common trait of today’s new gang members consist of lack of organization.