While any weapon that is manufactured in prison is dangerous, weapons which can avoid detection are among the most dangerous. Hardened plastic weapons are extremely dangerous because they can avoid detection by metal detectors that are deployed strategically throughout our prisons. We are often asked how we can’t detect when inmates are making these type of weapons. I’m going to share a brief primer on how they’re made. No worries, we aren’t giving inmates any knowledge that they aren’t already aware of. These weapons have been recovered for years throughout many facilities.
Here is how they’re made. First you need a source of plastic, one of the most common sources is the clear portable radios that inmates can purchase in the canteen.
Next you need a heat source. Many inmates are extremely resourceful, to get a flame, they form a paper clip into a “U” shape and stick the ends of the paper clip into an electrical outlet, where the paper clip forms the “U” shape, they put a ball of toilet paper and the current passing through the toilet paper ignites it. They pull the cardboard middle out of a roll of toilet paper and pull the middle of the paper up to form a cone shape. They light the top of the cone shape on fire and it burns like a concentrated flame. They often balance the lit toilet paper roll on the edge of the stainless toilet seat, so that if they need to get rid of the evidence quickly, it can be extinguished and flushed in seconds.
Next they need to form the weapon. Typically, they will put a couple of pairs of socks on their hands to act as gloves if they don’t have gloves. Then it’s just a matter of forming the radio or other plastic into a tubular shape, which can be done fairly quickly. Once it’s in a compressed tubular shape and the plastic cools, it becomes very hard. They rub the shape on the cement floor to form a point and often add a handle with a strap that can be put around their wrist so that the weapon can’t be easily taken away.
The dangerous plastic weapon is sometimes made more dangerous by rubbing fecal matter into the tip. That would certainly increase the risk for infection. There are many challenges in a correctional setting and corrections officers need to be vigilant while conducting their rounds and looking for the remnants of materials used to create these weapons.