To Fight Recidivism, DOJ Requires BOP To Offer Cell Phones To Prisoners

BOP halfway house cell phone 300x173 To Fight Recidivism, DOJ Requires BOP To Offer Cell Phones To PrisonersThe Justice Department will require Federal Bureau of Prison halfway houses to boost services for inmates prior to release. The new rules also instruct federal work release facilities to provide cell phone access in order to help inmates seek employment opportunities.

Once fully implemented, these services will be available to every single one of the approximately 30,000 inmates who are released through halfway houses each year.

Several other modifications are being made to the standard contracts that apply to federal halfway houses in order to provide greater support to returning citizens. Examples include requiring halfway houses to provide public transportation vouchers or transportation assistance to help residents secure employment, requiring all federal halfway houses to allow residents to have cell phones to facilitate communication with potential employers and family, and improving and expanding home confinement by increasing the use of GPS monitoring.

According to the new requirements, not just any cell phones will be allowed for use. Specifically the cell phones provided to halfway house prisoners must meet the following criteria:

  • Contractors managing the halfway houses must develop policy and procedures to monitor use of the devices.
  • The cell phone can be equipped with GPS to account for inmate location.
  • No resident-to-resident phone calls will be allowed.
  • Cell phones will be randomly searched, with all cell phones being searched at least monthly.
  • Cell phone photos inside the facility or on the facility property will be prohibited.

We applaud this move by the Justice Department

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Wireless Prison Payphone™ Briefs

Cell phones at night 300x199 Wireless Prison Payphone™ BriefsHere is the latest summary of recent news articles regarding contraband cell phones in prisons around the world. I call these periodic round up of news items, “Wireless Prison Payphone™ Briefs” because this is essentially what smuggled mobile phones in jails have become – a substitute for the current wall mounted prison payphones.

Convicted Killer Among Group of Prisoners Given Permission to Buy Mobile Phone:
A convicted killer is among a group of prisoners at an open jail given permission to buy a mobile phone.

Ten inmates at Loughan House jail in Blacklion, Co Cavan, were allowed to buy a handset late last week. And among the first to get their hands on the phones was convicted killer Nigel Kenny. He and the nine other inmates were told by Governor William Reilly that they could buy the Samsung handsets with a charger and €5 credit for €25 on Friday.

The programme is expected to be rolled out to all prisoners at the open jail over the coming weeks. Mobile phones have already been given to inmates at Shelton Abbey open prison in Co Wicklow… (source)

Romania to Implement Mobile Signal Jammers in Prisons to Curb Phone Fraud by Inmates:
Romania plans to implement a system that will jam mobile phone reception in prisons starting 2015, which should limit the number and use of mobile phones in prisons, but also corruption among prison employees.

The unauthorized use of mobile phones

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Managed Access Jamming Too Expensive Says MoJ, Investigates Demand For Contraband Cell Phones

managed access too expensive 300x193 Managed Access Jamming Too Expensive Says MoJ, Investigates Demand For Contraband Cell PhonesThe United Kingdom’s Ministry of Justice has determined that managed access jamming of contraband cell phones is too expensive and has commissioned “research to explore the use and demand for illicit mobile phones amongst the prison population” in order to facilitate the “development of a new mobile phone strategy to:

 

(i) manage prisoner communications,

(ii) reduce and control criminal activities and

(iii) reduce expenditure on equipment and the need for time-consuming searches.”

The aim of the study is:

1. To further the understanding of what drives the demand for illicit mobile phones by prisoners; and

2. To help identify potential effective ways of preventing their usage (excluding prohibitively expensive solutions such as mobile phone blockers).

To guide the analysis, the key research questions to be explored are:

• What drives the demand for mobile phones within prisons? How much is for maintaining family conduct and how much is for other more criminal purposes (including criminal networks, gangs, terrorism)?

• Are certain types of prisoners more likely to want a mobile phone and so drive demand in particular establishments?

• Which non-technical factors could be most effective (and cost effective) in reducing both the supply and demand for mobile phones in prison (including ways of counteracting the prison economy that surrounds the use of mobile phones)?

Maryland as an example

Let’s look at Maryland as an example of the managed access cost concerns prisons around the world must wrestle with when considering jamming technology.

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Prison Budget Blues

prison budget blues 300x199 Prison Budget BluesAs states continue to deal with unprecedented fiscal strain, most are taking steps to reduce their inmate populations and costs while protecting public safety and holding offenders accountable. In the current fiscal climate, states are increasingly forced to do more with less and make difficult decisions about competing priorities. The National Conference of State Legislatures recently reported that corrections and public safety spending were above budgeted levels in seven states, including Alaska, where corrections spending exceed the state’s $258 million corrections budget by $9 million.

While funds to manage expensive prison systems have lessened, so too have resources for services such as treatment for substance abuse and mental health. For example, Minnesota lawmakers recently considered a significant reduction of funding for a model in-prison treatment program that has been shown to reduce recidivism by 25 percent. Thus, the viability of alternatives to incarceration programs and reentry services may be compromised in the current environment.

One out of every one hundred adults in America is incarcerated, a total population of approximately 2.3 million. By contrast, according to a report published in The Economist, the number of imprisoned adults in America in 1970 was only one out of every 400. The United States has 5% of the world’s population, but 23% of the world’s reported prisoners. It is not clear, however, that these high rates of imprisonment are leading to safer communities. One study by two professors at Purdue University and Rutgers University has estimated

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Caution Advised On Managed Access Jamming For Prisons

prison cell phone jamming problems 300x150 Caution Advised On Managed Access Jamming For PrisonsAs we have written before, managed access cell phone jamming systems being tested in prisons around the world have been deployed with mixed results. In addition to requiring ongoing management and investment post deployment, they have a spotty record and not all vendor’s equipment works as advertised.

Recently, the Cayman Islands issued a report on their managed access trial. According to the report, which is discussed in the article below, “The prisons service installed a cell phone jamming device at Northward in December 2009, but the equipment has never worked properly. A large communications tower next to the prison complex, which operates most of the radio station signals in the Cayman Islands, causes signal “bleed over” that interferes with the cell phone jamming device.”

In addition, the U.K. prisons inspectorate, which recently reviewed the Cayman Islands prisons system, advised caution for entities seeking to purchase phone jamming equipment.

“Many companies make claims concerning the effectiveness of various technologies or items of equipment, but the long-term independent verification is often difficult to obtain,” said Stephen Fradley of the UK’s prisons inspectorate.

Officials with Cayman’s prisons service said they have tried their best to implement cell phone jamming technology at Her Majesty’s Prison, Northward, but funding concerns have blocked their efforts.

That is the response to a report tabled in the Legislative Assembly Monday regarding what Complaints Commissioner Nicola Williams said was a failure

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Why The Prison Payphone Industry Is Ripe For Disruptive Innovation

meshDETECT disruptive innovation Why The Prison Payphone Industry Is Ripe For Disruptive InnovationA disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology. The term is used to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically first by designing for a different set of consumers in a new market and later by lowering prices in the existing market.

Characteristics of a Disruptive Innovation:

  • Its performance attributes meet the unfulfilled needs of an emerging market’s customers. These same attributes are not initially valued by the mainstream market, which instead value different performance attributes and initially see the innovation as substandard.
  • Emerging market adoption enables the innovation to increase its performance and to begin overlapping with the performance expectations of the mainstream market.
  • Awareness of the innovation increases as the innovation develops, influencing change in the mainstream market’s perception of what it values.
  • The change in the mainstream market’s perception of what it values enables the innovation to disrupt and replace the existing offerings in the mainstream market.

In the prison payphone industry, it is clear that the high call prices and low availability of the traditional wall phones in prisons and jails are not meeting the communication desires of detainees and their families. As a result, the demand for contraband cell phones has soared. Prison administrators, and the prison payphone companies themselves, have focused on

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Securus Continues Patent Offensive, This Time Against Ally Telecom & NCIC

securus patent suit ncic Securus Continues Patent Offensive, This Time Against Ally Telecom & NCICContinuing its offensive of suing its rivals for patent infringement, Securus filed suit against Ally Telecom and Network Communications International Corporation (NCIC).

The five patents at issue are:

1.) United States Patent No. 5,655,013 (the “’013 Patent”) entitled “Computer-Based Method and Apparatus for Controlling, Monitoring, recording and Reporting Telephone Access” issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on August 5, 1997: A method and apparatus for managing institutional telephone activity utilizes a computer control unit to control a trunk management unit, which connects institutional telephones to outside telephone lines. The computer control unit contains a database for storing the calling privileges and restrictions of institutional users and for recording calling transactions made by the users. The computer control unit implements a prospective call screening feature whereby outside recipients of undesired calls from the institution may enter a code that directs the computer control unit to prohibit similar calls in the future.

2.) United States Patent No. 6,560,323 (the “’323 Patent”) entitled “Computer-Based Method and Apparatus for Controlling, Monitoring, recording and Reporting Telephone Access” issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on May 6, 2003: A method and apparatus for managing institutional telephone activity utilizes a computer control unit to control a trunk management unit, which connects institutional telephones to outside telephone lines. The computer control unit contains a database for storing the calling privileges and restrictions of institutional users and for

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FCC Releases Order (FCC 13-113) Regulating Prison Payphone Costs and Commissions

FCC cuts prison LD payhone rates FCC Releases Order (FCC 13 113) Regulating Prison Payphone Costs and CommissionsThe FCC has released its order (FCC 13-113) detailing the rules associated with the regulating of prison payphone interstate calling rates. This is the culmination of FCC Proposed Rule Making 12-375 (The Wright Petition – follow the link for to see the new proposed rates) in which the Federal Communications Commission proposed to lower rates charged to prison inmates for long distance telephone calls by considering changes to its regulations governing rates for interstate inter-exchange inmate calling services (ICS), after studying the issue for nine years.

The ruling effectively guts the per minute LD rates and one-time per call fees companies such as Global Tel*Link and Securus Technologies can charge imates and their families as well as the commissions paid to Federal, State and County prisons.

The FCC claims that commissions are “not recoverable through interstate ICS rates because the record makes clear that they are not a direct cost of providing interstate ICS.”

It also sets the ground work for a similar action on intrastate rates. Relevant excerpts from the ruling relating to one time fees and to the payment of commissions to jails and prisons by the prison payphone providers are below. Securus has previously stated that it will go to court to stop the implementation of these rules.

As the prison payphone companies and prisons grapple with the challenge of recovering the revenues associated with this order, we suggest they consider meshDETECT Secure Prison Cell

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Australia Launches Contraband Prison Cell Phone Jamming Trial

australia jamming prison mobile phones 300x225 Australia Launches Contraband Prison Cell Phone Jamming TrialAn Australian-first trial of technology that will stop inmates from making calls from mobile phones they’ve illegally smuggled into jail has begun at a prison west of Sydney. The project trials the use of a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) to jam phones within the prison under the supervision of the ACMA and mobile phone carriers.

The DAS system will jam the channels transmitting mobile phone signals within the prison but prevent disruption outside the prison. Kordia has provided the DAS design which has been installed by an independent contractor under Kordia supervision. Kordia is now activating the jamming system into the DAS and will be running a series of tests to prove the system’s effectiveness and ensure mobile signals outside the prison complex are unaffected.

The jammers and accompanying distributed antenna system will be provided by chosen suppliers WiComm and Lan Installations for contracts worth $462,000 and $178,000 respectively.

NSW Corrective Services had to seek exemptions from the Australian Communications and Media Authority to conduct the trial as current legislation makes it an offence to operate, supply or possess a jamming device. Lithgow Jail is understood to be fit for a jamming-only trial due to its remoteness. If the nine-month $1.06 million Lithgow trial proved successful in stopping calls while not impacting on mobile phone use outside the jail then jamming would likely be rolled out to the state’s other maximum security prisons.

However, using jammers to block signals in Australia’s prisons is

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“Managed Access” For Prison Contraband Cell Phones Is High Maintenance

high maintenance managed access 300x300 Managed Access For Prison Contraband Cell Phones Is High MaintenanceAccording to a recent article, managed access systems (MAS) are not plug and play. They require ongoing systems management and staff time. This means ongoing cost, in addition to the high cost and operational challenges of installation.

The Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman was the first prison in the country to use the Intelligent Network Access Controller (iNAC), which blocks service for contraband cell phones inside the prison walls. Being on the cutting edge involved some learning, said Sean Smith, who heads the state’s Corrections Investigation Division.

“Our biggest misconception was the idea that it was plug-and-play,” Smith said. “It is not. It’s called managed access for a reason.”

The reason is that the system can require daily management to keep it tuned to the precise footprint needed.

It can take several weeks to get a system configured to operate within the required parameter. But the RF environment is not static, and additional adjustments can be needed on a daily basis. Signal strength, direction and penetration can vary depending on physical changes in the environment, weather and outside signals from carriers’ cell sites.

Source

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Wireless Carriers Oppose Jammming Contraband Mobile Phones in Prisons

wireless carriers mobile jamming 300x199 Wireless Carriers Oppose Jammming Contraband Mobile Phones in PrisonsWireless carriers rejected proposals to jam wireless signals inside and around U.S. correctional facilities in reply comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission Aug. 23, arguing that jamming wireless signals is unlawful and could prevent legitimate wireless communications.

CTIA – The Wireless Association “strongly opposes” the use of contraband mobile phones in prisons but said any requests by non-federal entities to jam wireless signals would be an illegal violation of the Communications Act. Carriers also noted that the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration had previously denounced non-federal mobile phone jamming because it could prevent the transmission of 911 calls and hinder law enforcement communications.

Their comments came in response to the FCC’s May 1 notice of proposed rulemaking regarding contraband mobile phone use in prisons.

The carriers sought to deter the FCC from considering other proposals to limit spectrum use, including the establishment of wireless exclusion zones in and around correctional facilities. Requiring such “quiet zones” would “unnecessarily complicate network design” and force carriers to re-engineer their networks “potentially to the detriment of consumers,” said CTIA in its filing. The American Corrections Association said quiet zones would create a “modest diminution of rights” that would be far outweighed by the benefits to the public, according to its FCC filing.

Source

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Securus Technologies Sues Global Tel*Link For Patent Infringment

securus gtl patent fight 300x225 Securus Technologies Sues Global Tel*Link For Patent InfringmentUpdate (10/21/13): Global Tel*Link has responded to Securus Technologies’ patent infringement lawsuit and this case is turning into a barn-burner. In a press release issued today, GTL unsurprisingly denies infringing the Securus patents, but also goes on to claim that “Securus is barred by contract from bringing patent claims against GTL, that Securus’ patents are invalid and were obtained through false statements and that GTL does not use Securus’ patented technology in any event.” It has also responded with filed claims of its own alleging that Securus has systematically infringed on GTL’s patented technology and asked the court to stop Securus’ unauthorized use.

Of particular interest is GTL’s claim that Securus’ patents were obtained by false statements. In its response to the court, GTL states that Securus patent 7,899,167 for Centralized Call Processing was obtained through “a knowing and deliberate misrepresentation” of U.S. Patent No. 7,505,406 in a response to a final rejection of the ’167 patent application by the USPTO as being unpatentable over patent 7,505,406 and that this misrepresentation was made “with the intent to deceive the PTO for the purpose of obtaining allowance of the patent application.” As a result, GTL claims that “the ‘167 patent is unenforceable due to inequitable conduct before the PTO.” The added wrinkle in all this, besides the very serious charge of misrepresentation, is that the ’406 patent is also owned by Securus (via

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Prisoners At HMP Birmingham To Be Given In-Cell Phones

HMP Birmingham Winson Green prison 300x199 Prisoners At HMP Birmingham To Be Given In Cell Phones Following a trend in the UK, another prison will install in-cell phones. According to the article, the reasons for this deployment are positive impact on prisoners’ rehabilitation, encouraging the maintenance of family ties, and reducing the prevalence of illegal mobile phones.

Prisoners will have phones installed in their cells under new plans for a Midland prison. The move at HMP Birmingham, which takes inmates from across the Black Country, comes despite a law being introduced last year which made it a crime for inmates to have mobile phones behind bars.

Security firm G4S, which runs the Winson Green prison, is introducing the phones because staff say it can have a ‘positive impact on prisoners’ rehabilitation’.

Prisoners will only be allowed to dial numbers approved by the prison, and each inmate will have to pay their own call charges. Their conversations can also be recorded or listened to for security purposes.

The prison, which has a capacity of 1,450 male adults, already allows inmates to have televisions in their cells at the cost of £1 a week per cell.

It has also emerged that HMP Oakwood in Wolverhampton, had cell phones fitted when it was built in 2012. G4S spokesman Michael Baker said: “Our experience is that in-cell phones can have a positive impact on prisoners’ rehabilitation, not only encouraging the maintenance of family ties, but reducing the prevalence of illegal mobile phones.”

He added: “New prisons are built with in-cell phones and although HMP Birmingham

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The Risks Of WiFi Deployment In Prisons

prison wifi risks 300x187 The Risks Of WiFi Deployment In PrisonsWith Global Tel*Link all but announcing at the recent Corrections Technology Association Annual Meeting its intention to offer mobile services in prisons, now may be the time to consider the best technology architecture for such deployments for those prison administrators who see the potential benefits of a secure prison cell phone solution.

There are essentially two ways to provision wireless personal communication devices, such as prisoner tablets, in a prison environment. In its presentation, Global Tel*Link stated that it has chosen to deploy service using WiFi to provide wireless connectivity. We think there are some significant operational challenges and, more importantly, serious security risks in this approach.

Security Risks

There are two main security risks, as highlighted by the recent news articles below. The first is the potential for intentional hacking of the system, either internally by tech savvy prisoners, or externally by those determined to defeat the WiFi security controls in order to gain or grant unfettered access to Global Tel*Link services, connected prison systems (commissary and trust accounts, etc.) or the unfiltered internet. A very real challenge with the decision to deploy a prison WiFi network is external hackers “wardriving” the system from outside the prison facility in order to accomplish this.

The second risk is the unintentional granting of access to the internet due to incompetence, human error and service misconfiguration.

In either case, the deployment of a local access wireless network via WiFi means that a single

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Mobility In Corrections

GTL copies meshDETECT Mobility In CorrectionsWe post this summary of Global Tel*Link’s upcoming presentation “Mobility In Corrections” at the Corrections Technology Association (CTA) 2013 Annual Technology Summit, without comment…

It is a question of when, not if, are secure mobile phones and/or tablets are used by inmates in a correctional setting. There are natural applications for the use of secure mobile phones include; telephone calls, video calls, music and email using the embedded capabilities of today’s mobile phones. Additional applications could include secure text messaging. What if tablets were introduced to inmates? The potential for positive use is greatly enhanced when considering education and training curriculum is downloaded to the tablet. Administrative functionality such as commissary ordering or kites is also within the realm of possibilities.

Clearly, technology is available to integrate all of these applications and more on today’s mobile phones and tablets. The larger question, though, is what are the security and policy implications from introducing mobility in corrections? Could the phones be used as weapons, trade and/or commerce? Are all inmates eligible to use a mobile phone or just select inmates? Are inmates required to purchase a mobile phone or tablet or are they provided at no cost to the inmate? What are the infrastructure requirements for supporting mobile phones such as power outlets for recharging? What types of batteries are

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