Many unique challenges face nurses working in correctional facilities with medication administration identified as a specialized field in correctional nursing. Many nurses who are new to working in a jail or correctional facility setting are unprepared for the breadth and scope of their responsibilities in managing medication delivery, administration and the medication room. A high percentage of inmates incarcerated in jails, state and federal prisons take medications on a regular basis for chronic medical and psychiatric disorders.

Medications also must be managed and prescribed for inmates with acute conditions such as headache, allergies or infections. It is estimated that nearly 80% of the population in correctional facilities may be taking prescriptions for acute or chronic conditions. The proper layout and maintenance of the medication room in a jail or prison is critical to maintaining an effective Jail medication administration policy.

Medication Room Layout Critical in Correctional Facility

The medication room should be organized based on the needs of the patient population such as an all-male facility versus a mixed gender population or an older population that will require larger prescription storage space. Medication rooms should be laid out with separate areas according to function such as ordering, receiving, locked storage areas and prescription disposal areas.

Security of Jail Medication Rooms

Maintaining security in a correctional facility medication room is a primary focus that includes ensuring that only authorized personnel and products enter or exit the medication room, that contraband is prohibited and the activities of each inmate and staff are accounted for.

Prescription Medication Disposal in Correctional Facilities

All correctional facilities in the United States must adhere to federal guidelines and DEA compliance regulations for the proper disposal of prescription medication. No longer can outdated, expired or unwanted prescription medication be flushed into the sewer system. Jails must dispose of pharmaceutical waste with safe and effective methods that are also cost-effective and efficient in a busy, overcrowded environment.

Principles of an Effective Jail Medication Room System

An effective jail medication room system requires standardized processes that should be in place to ensure that medications are available when needed for emergency, acute and chronic care.

Key principles for jail medication room systems include:


  • the medication room should be locked at all times
  • a limited, controlled number of staff with keyed access
  • do not allow patients in the medication room
  • do not allow inmate porters to clean the medication room
  • no food or drinks allowed in the medication room


  •  limited staff to receive, store, maintain and dispose of medications
  •  maintain a knowledgeable, consistent staff to manage medication rooms


  •  minimize stored medications
  • store only medications, equipment and controlled items to avoid control issues
  •  have separate areas for controlled functions
  •  include areas for documentation control


  • keep topical and oral medications separate and clearly labeled
  •  maintain a quality refrigeration and thermostat system with temperature and humidity control

Medication Disposal

  • follow all environmental regulations for medication disposal
  •  do not flush medications
  •  regularly review and rotate inventory based on expiration date
  •  use a quick and effective medication disposal system that has intermittent use properties

Instituting these principles along with medication organization and following a strict intake, maintenance and disposal system are key to an effective jail medication policy.

C2R Global Manufacturing, Inc. helps correctional facilities and many other industries handling pharmaceuticals to meet all DEA and EPA compliance issues with safe and effective prescription waste disposal. Our products are used in pharmacies, hospitals, correctional facilities and anywhere compliant and efficient drug disposal is required. Contact us to learn more about our pharmaceutical waste disposal solutions which contribute to an effective jail medication policy.