The America of the Twenty-first century has as one of its more impressive aspects the mass incarceration of its citizens. The US has the highest proportion of individuals jailed and imprisoned of any nation on earth, which certainly reveals a zeal for the work.
Much of this has to do with the war on drugs that started around 1980. To that time there were about half a million people behind bars; we're at around two million now, a figure that means approximately one percent of the population is being housed in some sort of lockup. The drug war brought on a fourfold increase in jail/prison populations, a situation which has proven difficult to reverse. Even so, the real reason for the number of people incarcerated has to do with the length of our sentences, which are much longer than those of other countries. It is not so much that we sentence that many more people but that we put them away for very long terms.
Even so, is an ill wind that blows nobody any good. It comes as no surprise that somebody figured out how to make money off of prisoners. One clever and profitable idea that seems to have caught on came about because of the problem of concealed weapons and drug smuggling in prisons.
Prisoners retain many individual rights. Most of the time they may keep their own possessions, at least to a limited extent; these include television sets and other electronic devices—not all, certainly, but some. The cell phone seems to be on the forbidden list, but the ordinary radio passes muster. Or would, but for the fact of its structure.
You see, the ordinary radio consists of a box which contains a lot of empty space. This is true of most electronic gadgets—open the back and see. This space is a fine spot to conceal contraband; one simply throws in the drugs, the knife or the forbidden cell phone, screws on the back panel and goes about one's business in the prison yard until the material is needed. Prisoners are no dumber than the general population and in fact have lots of time to devise tricks like this.
For a long time there was no solution to the problem. Prisoners wanted radios and CD players; guards had to keep taking them apart to search for contraband, and the whole process became an endless cat-and-mouse game.
At some point one or more clever people in the radio business discovered two things: One, that there was a pretty big market in selling radios to prisoners; and Two, that they could easily make a radio with a transparent body to sell to folks whose daily routines included a body cavity search. Enter the Correctional Facility Radio.
Right now you can go online and find ordinary portable radios manufactured with see-through bodies or cabinets especially for the prisoners on your gift list. Sangean makes five models, from pocket-size all the way up to nice big table radios for that special spot in your cell. Other firms offer similar items.
One enterprising firm puts out a see-through digital watch (only $2.85!) another a transparent calculator. There are transparent television sets and even transparent typewriters. The clear television comes with a transparent cord and a clear remote control. You can get a clear reading lamp, a clear book light, a transparent alarm clock, and, if the warden approves, a see-through computer chassis.
Most of the transparent electronic products are modified to suit industry requirements: they lack alarm functions, must have soft antennas (hard ones become weapons) and cannot be connected by AUX cables to another device.
If nothing else this gives you something to look forward to when, as the trend indicates, all of us will be in prison for something, with the rest working as guards.