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, but 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 instead of merely housing them during their time of incarceration.
People who go to prisons can indeed become reformed individuals who decide to turn their lives around for the public’s good. Some people 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 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 change the locks and enhance the home’s security system. 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 their weaknesses. So, someone who has actually been in prison or jail for breaking 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 precious 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 provided job security for the locksmith.
Not only does the locksmith have to keep the prisons safe, but they also have to keep the employees safe in their own homes for the times a prisoner could be released who has a grudge.