When Do Prisons Need Locksmiths?
Some prisons have been known to teach locksmith skills to inmates. There has been some controversy over
this for obvious reasons. Why would prison officials give someone the tools to become an even better
criminal? To learn the craft, the group has access to tools that can be made into weapons. Prisoners are
quite creative in learning how to make and hide weapons. They're also creative in the weapons they do
make with what few tools they are provided. So, allowing the prisoners to become locksmiths not only
teaches them a skill to enhance criminal behavior, it also provides access to something that could later harm
another inmate, guard, or nurse. But there has been much information and attention on reforming criminals
as opposed to merely housing them during their time of incarceration.
It is true that people who go to prisons can become reformed individuals who decide to turn their lives
around for the good of the public. There are people who are falsely accused and incarcerated who deserve a
chance to improve their skills. But people who are put in the position of changing locks and maintaining
security systems are supposed to be free of criminal backgrounds.
Much criticism occurred over the television series that provided information on improving security in
homes. Professional criminals would be called to stage a break in to show the homeowners how vulnerable
their security systems actually are. The homeowners would watch the whole ordeal on camera; then a
professional locksmith would go in to change the locks and enhance the security system for the home. Some
said this only set the stage for amateur criminals to learn more tricks. However, just as much damage is
done by well-meaning individuals who keep valuable information from the public. How do our security
measures improve? They improve by exposing the weaknesses. So, someone who has actually been in
prison or jail for breaking and entering would be the best person from whom to acquire information.
Locksmiths have been called to several prisons across the globe because of staff carelessness. Keys are
placed in the hands of what is supposed to be competent, trustworthy individuals. Allowing anyone to take
these keys home after work only sets up the temptation for misuse and the chance to misplace a highly
valuable set of items. Even long-term employees can become tempted by wrong-doing. High priority is
supposed to be placed on keeping the criminals in their jails and prisons, which should mean high priority to
protect the very keys that are necessary to keep them there.
When keys are lost to a prison, thousands of dollars must be spent to re-key and/or replace locks for the
facility. Prisoners must be kept on lockdown while the locks are being replaced or re-keyed. This is an
example of a simple mistake that cost the institution a large sum and also provided job security for the
Not only does the locksmith have to keep the prisons safe, they also have to keep the employees safe in their
own homes for the times a prisoner could be released who has a grudge.