Prison Architect Wiki

Contraband are the objects that prisoners smuggle into prison or obtain inside the prison. Each prisoner can only carry one thing at a time, he will always carry it with him but may decide to hide it, usually in the prisoner's cell in a bed, toilet, or other objects in his/her cell.

There are 4 types of contraband but all items can be traded for money.

  1. Weapons - Used to attack prisoners and staff. Silent kill weapons attract less attention than noisier weapons used in fights.
  2. Tools - Used to escape or cause destruction.
  3. Narcotics - Booze, cigs, and drugs are all considered narcotics.
  4. Luxuries - Most common luxuries are cell-phones.

There are two traits of contraband, making it detectable.

  1. Metal - Detectable by Metal Detector.
  2. Smelly - Detectable by Dog Handler.

When a prisoner with metal contraband goes through a metal detector, it will very likely set off an alarm and a guard will search that prisoner automatically. There is also a small chance of a false alarm.

Dogs will automatically check nearby prisoners for smelly contraband, but are also susceptible to false alarms of both kinds.

Alternatively, you can search any prisoner for contraband by left-clicking and then selecting "Search", or you could also trigger a shakedown and search the entire prison. If contraband is found, the prisoner will be escorted to a solitary cell or to his cell for lockdown depending on your punishment policy. You can change your punishment policy in the Policy tab in the Reports menu. The supply and demand of contraband can be seen through the intelligence tab, if the supply is high, a shakedown is recommended.

Contraband can also be traded with other prisoners for money. Prisoners will carry contraband that they don't particularly want to sell. The price of contraband depends on the supply and demand of the contraband. The approximate prices of contraband can be seen in the dangers part of the Intelligence tab.

Almost all contraband can be smuggled in.

Contraband arrives to the prison in numerous ways:

1. Prisoners can arrive with contraband when they first come to your prison. They will be searched on entry in the reception area.

2. Contraband can be smuggled in by family in visitation. Either have dog patrols and metal detectors around and in your visitation room or have secure visitor booths, or use Checkpoints to search prisoners when going in and coming out.

3. When prisoners are visiting their families and making phone calls to them (via a phone booth), they can arrange for delivery of contraband to be thrown over an outside wall. Prisoners retrieve their contraband from the delivery or ground during free time or work time (on their regime) if there is no guard nearby. In order to stop this, make all outside areas (except the yard) staff-only. Another way is to make all outside areas (that are accessible by prisoners) surrounded by other buildings (rooms), cutting off access the prison's perimeter. There is a limit to how far contraband can be thrown (10m), so also make sure that any outside areas are spaced sufficiently far from the outer perimeter of the prison.

4. Crate delivery. It is beneficial to use a scanner, or metal detector and dogs. Scanners catch all detectable contraband.

5. Weapons and Tools can be taken from certain rooms. Use Metal Detectors in the appropriate rooms, dogs in others.

6.Prisoners who are Janitorial Staff will steal from the rooms they're cleaning. Rooms that your prisoners don't need to be in should be made Staff Only.

As of Alpha 23 prisoners may consume their contraband (drugs or alcohol) and become intoxicated. Guards (especially dogs) may detect this behavior.

List of Contraband:


Contraband name Type/Trait Comment
Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 8.48.42 AM.png
Assault Rifle (Weapons, Metal, Ranged Weapon) Taken from dead/unconscious National Guard or Elite Ops members.
Axe (Weapons, Tools, Metal) Taken from Forestry. To chop bones or fences.
Baton (Weapons) Taken from dead/unconscious guards, Security, or Armoury.
Booze. (Narcotics, Luxuries) Taken from Office and Visitation.
Cellphone (Luxuries) Taken from Office and Visitation.
Cigs (pack of cigarettes) (Narcotics, Smelly, Luxuries) Taken from Office, Staff Room, Visitation, or Security.
48px-Contraband clipboard.png
Clipboard (Weapons) Used as a club, taken from dead/unconscious Administrative Staff.
Club (Weapons, Improvised) Taken from Cleaning Cupboard and gym.
Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 8.52.26 AM.png
Dog Leash (Drugs) Taken from dog handler, used for strangulation, silent when used to attack.
Drill (Weapons,Tools, Metal) Taken from Workshop or Storage.
Drugs (Narcotics, Smelly) Taken from Infirmary.
Fork (Weapons, Metal) Taken from Kitchen.
Guard Outfit (Tools) Taken from dead/unconscious Guards, and Armed Guards. Not much is known and it has no purpose.
Gun (Revolver) (Weapons, Metal, Ranged Weapon) Taken from Armoury.
Hammer (Weapons, Tools, Metal) Taken from Workshop or Storage.
Hose (Unknown) Taken from dead/unconscious Firemen.
Jail Keys (Metal) Taken from dead/unconscious Guards, Armed Guards, Riot Guards and the Security room. Used to unlock all doors. Remote Doors cannot be opened with any keys.
Knife (Weapons, Metal) Taken from Kitchen or Morgue.
Lighter (Luxuries) Taken from Office, Security, Visitation, or Staff Room. Can be used to light a fire in your prison.
Medicine (Narcotics, Smelly) Taken from Infirmary.
Needle (Narcotics) Taken from Infirmary or dead/unconscious Doctors.
48px-Contraband pianowire.png
Piano Wire (Weapons) Smuggled in only. Silent when used to attack. Rarely trips Metal Detector.
Poison (Chemical, Smelly) Taken from Infirmary or Cleaning Cupboard.
Rifle (Weapons, Metal, Ranged Weapon) Taken from armory or dead/unconscious snipers.
Saw (Tools, Metal) Taken from Workshop, Storage or Forestry.
Scissors (Weapons, Tools, Metal) Taken from Infirmary, Morgue or Library.
Screwdriver (Weapons, Tools, Metal) Taken from Workshop or Storage.
Shank (Weapons, Tools, Metal, Improvised) Made by prisoners in workshop or can be purchased by Dealer in Escape Mode.
Shears (Weapons, Metal) Smuggled in only.
Shotgun (Weapons, Metal, Ranged Weapon) Taken from Armoury or dead/unconscious Armed Guards.
Spade (Tools, Metal) Taken from Forestry. Used to dig Escape Tunnels.
Spoon (Tools, Metal) Taken from Kitchen. Used to dig Escape Tunnels.
Staff Key (Metal) Taken from dead/unconscious staff members. Used to unlock/lock staff-only doors, usually used during riots and escapes.
Taser (Weapons, Ranged Weapon) Taken from Armoury or dead/unconscious Armed Guards or guards with Tazer Certification. Only available after Taser Rollout is researched in Bureaucracy.

Wooden Pickaxe

(Tools, Improvised) Made in a Workshop.

Contraband type by room[]

Intelligence view shows which rooms are sources of contraband. A prison's layout should consider this to detect and contain contraband, by securing their exits with metal detectors and/or dog handlers.

Room Type/Trait
Visitation Smelly
Psychologist's Office Smelly
Cleaning Cupboard Smelly
Infirmary Smelly & Metal
Library Metal
Kitchen Metal
Workshop Metal
Keep these staff-only:
Office (others) Smelly
Forestry Metal
Staff Room Smelly
Armoury Metal
Security Metal
Storage Metal
Morgue Metal
Deliveries Any (Smuggled)