Violence. Studies have found that approximately 1/2 of all inmates ( about 1 million) experience violence either by other inmates or by staff. The study below shows that violence perpetrated by staff happens in the same numbers as violence by inmates against each other.
Gangs are prolific in prisons. Many use the telephone to contact gang members outside of prison. “A significant number of federal inmates use prison telephones to commit serious crimes while incarcerated—including murder, drug trafficking and fraud.” (Justice Department Study)
Drugs are also found in virtually all prisons, keeping many inmates addicted and creating new addicts. For some, even those who were not addicts when they entered prison, it is a way to escape the horrible conditions. Drugs are smuggled in in a variety of ways. Staff will many times bring it in to trade for sex. (Do a Google search for “prison officer charge sexual misconduct” (no quotations marks) to see a long list of links to cases.)
The Inspector General of the Justice Department released a report in 2003 which found illegal drugs in every one of the nations 102 federal prisons. It showed that the drugs were brought in by visitors, the mail system and most disconcerting… the staff.
Criminal Justice and Behavior
New York Times
Prison Beating Caught On Video in Private Run Prision
"Gangland" Preview – Gangs in Prisons