A report on the problems of contraband cell phones in Ohio prisons:
The Ohio Department of Corrections is reviewing how best to cope with a problem that is growing nationwide: Prisoners gaining access to cellphones.
“They can be used to plan escapes,” says Vinko Kucinic, the department’s investigations coordinator. “They can be used to intimidate witnesses, as well as victims.”
An I-Team review of prison records shows that the department has seized 225 cellphones in the past three years. 124 of those seizures came just last year alone.
The problem is so widespread that even convicted serial killer Charles Manson has been caught rambling on a cellphone from inside his California prison.
Officials worry that besides intimidating people, the phones can be used to help drug lords and gang members continue to run their businesses even from behind bars.
Some states have gone so far as to install multi-million dollar electronic “shields” over prisons. They block all cellphone traffic except from authorized numbers.
Cash-strapped Ohio is looking at less expensive methods.
“Some states have dogs that sniff out cellphones,” Kucinic says. “There are systems out there, and there are softwares out there.”
The state now has set up a task force to examine practices nationwide to look at which ones are most effective in keeping cellphones out of the hands of inmates.