Tag Archives: cell phone jammer

Prison Managed Access System Jammer Deployments

managed-access-jammer-trialsSince the first high profile prison managed access system (MAS) jammer deployment to thwart contraband cell phones at the MDOC facility in Parchman, MS., state departments of correction around the country have been evaluating the technology for potential deployment.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) announced a statewide deployment of cell phone jammers, despite high profile concerns about their effectiveness. And recently, Texas and Maryland moved to test the technology in their prison facilities.

Given these high profile initiatives and the high cost of the systems, it is not surprising that new MAS providers have moved into the market to challenge the incumbent, Tecore. A review of recent FCC Experimental Licensing System applications show the following firms deploying and testing managed access jamming systems in state prisons around the country:

Update (3/28/13): Screened Images has applied for FCC Experimental Licensing at:

  • Avenal (KINGS), CA (0276-EX-ST-2013)
  • Avenal (KINGS), CA (0178-EX-PL-2013)
  • Leakesville, MS (0220-EX-ST-2013)

Update (2/9/13): Screened Images has applied for FCC Experimental Licensing at:

  • California Corrections Center (0107-EX-ST-2013)
  • High Desert State Prison (0108-EX-ST-2013)
  • Pelican Bay State Prison (0109-EX-ST-2013)
  • California Health Care Facility (0112-EX-ST-2013)

Update (2/4/13): Screened Images has applied for FCC Experimental Licensing at:

  • Sierra Conservation Center (SCC) located at 5100 OByrnes Ferry Rd, Jamestown, CA 95327 (0105-EX-ST-2013)
  • Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP) located at 4001 Highway 104 Ione, CA 95640 (0041-EX-ST-2013)



Application Data


Screened Images, Inc.

South Mississippi Correctional
Institution –
Leaksville, MS




Owned by Joseph Noonan, founder of Corrections.com & BINJ

Screened Images, Inc.

Avenal State Prison (ASP)
located at 1 Kings Way
Avenal, CA




Screened Images, Inc.

Ironwood State Prison (ISP) located at 19005 Wileys Well Road Blythe, CA



Screened Images, Inc.

Chuckawalla Valley State
Prison, 19025 Wileys Well Rd. Blythe,



Screened Images, Inc.

Centinela State Prison, 2302
Brown Road Imperial, CA



Screened Images, Inc.

Calipatria State Prison (?)



App has been requested to be made confidential. The
“why STA is necessary” field says that the demonstration is to take
place at Ironwood State Prison

(ISP) located at the Avenal State Prison (ASP) located at 1 Kings WayAvenal,
CA 93204
yet the

transmitter location is for Calipatria, CA

Blind Tiger Communications, Inc.

Phillips State Prison, 2989 West Rock Quarry RdBuford, Georgia




Owned by the founder
of mobile-soap.com

 We contacted an employee of Blind Tiger Communications who shared with us that the system is working as required, is cost effective compared to the competition, and has the State of Georgia (Govenor’s Office) extremely pleased. Efforts to reach Joseph Noonan for comment were unsuccessful.


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Avenal State Prison Cell Phone Jammer Test

Update (10/19/12): The Avanal cell phone Managed Access System (MAS) system is scheduled to go live on Monday October 22nd. Very soon, inmates at Avenal won’t hear a dial tone if they try to make an outgoing call. Instead, they’ll hear: “The cellular device that you are using at Avenal State Prison has been identified as contraband. It is illegal to possess.”

Avenal flips the switch Monday, and will be the first facility to block cellphones. In the next three years, all 35 institutions in the California are expected to have the technology installed.

Staff numbers are programmed to work, but all other cellphones inside the prison will be blocked.

It will mean that prisoners can no longer make voice calls, send emails, text messages (or) access the Internet.


Original Posting:

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) plans to implement a Managed Access System (MAS) at Avenal State Prison on or about October 1, 2012.  According to CDCR, an MAS is “a system which deploys a secure cellular umbrella over a specified area generally within the bounds of a facility, to either permit or interfere with transmissions from mobile wireless devices.”

According to the Association of California State Supervisors blog, the MAS test phase at ASP will run from approximately October 1st through October 15th.  At the end of the test phase, ASP will go live with MAS. CDCR eventually will be implementing the MAS at all institutions statewide.

On September 25, 2012, ACSS conducted a meet and confer with CDCR Labor Relations staff and MAS subject matter experts to ensure that your career will remain productive and protected.

ACSS:   Who is responsible for monitoring the MAS system?
CDCR:  MAS is a hosted system.  The system will be monitored and installed by a third party, Global Tel*Link (GTL).  CDCR will be responsible for the authorization process for mobile devices.

ACSS:    Will the MAS be used to track employee arrival to work, and/or exit from work times?
CDCR:    No.

ACSS:   When will MSA be implemented at other institutions?
CDCR:   The MAS implementation is scheduled to complete within 36 months following Contract effective date of May 31, 2012.  The CDCR has identified a phased approach and plans to finalize the implementation schedule, that includes: Phase 0, one (1) facility to be completed within 5 months of contract award; Phase I, 17 adult facilities to be completed within 18 months of contract award; Phase II, 19 adult facilities to be completed within 36 months of contract award.  Future Phases/Sites currently in the design, construction and/or planning stages are to be completed within 6 months of the State’s request to GTL.  Implementation of Phases I, II, or Future Phases/Sites will not begin without CDCR’s acceptance of Phase 0 test results.

ACSS:    What devices will be authorized?
CDCR:   At each institution there will be a process to submit a request to authorize a mobile device.  Once the device is approved to have authorized access it will be entered into the MAS system as an authorized device.  At this time, CDCR anticipated that only those mobile devices that are necessary for state business will be authorized, i.e. state issued cell phone.  Personal cell phone will be considered on a case by case basis.  CDCR anticipated that authorization of personal cell phones will only occur in extraordinary situations.

ACSS:    Will employees be able to use their personal cell phones in non secure areas like employee parking lots, break areas, etc?
CDCR:   CDCR is making an effort to configure the MAS system to allow personal cell phone use in employee parking lots.  However, due to the nature of the MAS system that may not always be possible.  CDCR provides payphones in institution administration buildings and Visitor Processing area that can be utilized by employees.  In addition, CDCR employees are allowed to use state phones to call home if they are going to work late.  Furthermore, MAS does not affect the ability of incoming callers to leave a voice message on unauthorized devices.

ACSS:    Will CDCR track or monitor personal phone calls, local or remote whereabouts or other activities while on or off duty employees use authorized devices? 
CDCR:    MAS is able to block calls from unauthorized devices within the radio frequency umbrella. MSA will capture information regarding unauthorized devices such as the cellular phone number, mobile device hardware ID, telephone number called, as well as the date and time of the call.  Tracking will only occur on outgoing communications.  Incoming communications are blocked and not captured.  Authorized devices will not be tracked by MAS.  The information captured and tracked by MAS is not under the control of CDCR.  The MAS information that is captured and tracked is managed by the third party monitoring the system and only made available with a valid warrant.

Under Penal Code Section 4576 (e) “the department shall not access data or communication that have been captured using available technology from unauthorized use of a wireless communication device except after obtaining a valid search warrant.”  Under Penal Code Section 4576 (f) “the department shall not capture data or communications from an authorized wireless communication device, except as already authorized under existing law.” (Cal. Pen. Code, sec. 4576)

ACSS:    What is the cost to the state?
CDCR:   There is zero cost to the state for the MAS system. Global Tel*Link (GTL) be responsible for all costs associated with implementation of the MAS services, including costs associated with new installation of MAS equipment and services.  The costs of implementing Managed Access System services at all CDCR institutions are provided by GTL with the revenue generated by the Inmate/Ward Telephone System.  There are no additional costs incurred by California taxpayers or inmate/ward families and friends.


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Prison Cell Phone Jammer Problems

This article discusses the problems of trying to jam contraband cell phones in prison. Besides the significant cost, there are technical issues and regulatory concerns to overcome. We suggest that prisons co-opt the prison cell phone problem by supplying secure cell phones. This will eliminate the value of contraband cell phones and increase revenue through commissions rather than add unaffordable prison cell phone jammer expense.

It’s not an insignificant problem. Mobile phones make their way into prisons by visitors smuggling them in — in whole or in part — or from prison employees who can make thousands of dollars per cell phone. Since cell phones aren’t explicitly considered contraband under federal law, there’s not much punishment for employees who sneak them in. California found more than 4,000 phones in 2009, while the feds found close to 2,000 in their prisons and work camps. In a recent case in Maryland, a number of employees were indicted after the DEA wiretapped a jailed gang leader, catching him complaining about having to settle for salmon and shrimp, instead of lobster, to go with his champagne.

There seems to be some agreement by parties on polar ends of the spectrum that something should be done, but none on what that should be. Activists like Melamed argue that creating a sort of dampening field that prevents all cell phone calls isn’t the blunt force approach it is portrayed as being, and that granular approaches like increasing the criminal penalties of bringing a cell phone into a prison, and targeting rogue cell signals, is too expensive for prisons and the state budgets that fund them.

Then there is the matter of legislative priorities: Even if health care reform is voted out of the Congress soon, after a year of sucking all the air out of the room, jobs and the economy (or a prolonged period of partisan gridlock) are on the horizon.

But Melamed is optimistic that the furor over moving Gitmo prisoners to federal prisons will prompt the House to pass the bill that the Senate approved last year — the idea that Al Qaeda-connected prisoners might be able to get phones and plan attacks on American soil will be enough, he thinks, to break the impasse.

As far as the well-heeled telecom industry is concerned, purgatory is just fine for this bill. What better fate is there for a technology they see as inelegant and ineffective, not to mention its track record of inadvertently blocking genuine networks?

“Radio waves do not recognize walls,” the Wireless Association’s Chris Guttman-McCabe says.

“To effectively jam a jail, you have to jam 100 percent of the space,” Guttman-McCabe says. “And the same prison employees that get you the phone will get you to the places where the signals work. To get 100 percent of the space, you will have to overjam.”Melamed tried unsuccessfully to get the 1934 Communication Act ban on jamming overturned in federal appeals court, but it was thrown out on the grounds that his objection should have been raised when the law was passed. The Wireless Association argues that changing the law to let the FCC approve jamming requests is a bad revision of a good law that has served the country well for decades.

It’s one of the few things that the Wireless Association and the public interest group Public Knowledge agree on. Last summer, the group asked Congress to kill the jamming proposal, saying that the technology wouldn’t work and ingenious prisoners would simply find a hack around the jamming. Instead, the group argued that prisons could cut down on the demand by replacing expensive collect calls that prisoners currently make, with a reasonably priced alternative.

The group also makes a slippery slope argument that once jammers are allowed in one location, they’ll show up in other spots. More than one school administrator has gotten riled up enough about student texting and using mobile devices that they’ve ordered and turned on cell phone jammers, without knowing that they were illegal.

Who among us hasn’t dreamed of being able to jam annoying cell conversations in restaurants and movie theaters? As a practical matter, you can buy illegal jammers via the internet and find DIY instructions online.

While Melamed says the penalties for using those kinds of jammers should be increased, he also thinks there’s a place for jammers — such as in the hands of the bomb squad or in a prison.

“With a well-engineered system, the signal stops at the wall,” Melamed said. “The poorly engineered stuff you can buy online is the stuff that should be banned.”

But the Wireless Association says jammers aren’t that precise, and have a history of going on the fritz and blocking devices way beyond prison walls. They also argue that for jammers to be effective, they have to go after frequencies that abut spectrum used for public safety and first responder radios, raising the possibility that they could be collateral damage. They support, instead, a bill from California Sen. Dianne Feinstein that would make it a felony, punishable by a year in prison, to provide a cell phone to an inmate.

But that situation simply points out, according to the Wireless Association’s Guttman-McCabe, why smarter solutions that monitor cell frequencies for rogue phones are a better solution. That technology can track phones by their registration numbers and then blacklist them.

Melamed acknowledges that those solutions are good tools, but says they are too expensive for cash-strapped prisons and just aren’t as effective.

He compares jammers to a using a bug bomb.

“With jamming, no more bugs come back,” Melamed said. “Cell phone controlling is like capturing one cockroach at a time.”


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Nassau Lawyer Wants Smuggled Cell Phones Banned

This article from the Bahamas on the problem of contraband cell phones in prison identifies the usual issues with smuggled cell phones. One prisoner states, “Everyone doesn’t have a phone to do foolishness. Sometimes you just want to contact your loved ones. If we had phone access like a prison in (a) foreign (country), they could monitor the conversations.” This is exactly what the meshDETECT secure cell phone solution offers.

A lawyer has called on officials to eliminate cell phone access for prisoners.

Elsworth Johnson was motivated to speak out on the issue after he learned of an incident where a member of the public received a threatening call from an inmate.

Johnson said that prisoners use the devices to intimidate witnesses, abuse members of the public and pervert the administration of justice.

“ I was filled with rage that such a coward and many others like him are permitted on a daily basis to conduct their affairs with impunity,” he said.  “Here I am in New Providence, unable to communicate with my family in Cat Island in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, and prisoners seem to be able to communicate better than I can.”

National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest told Parliament recently of plans to purchase a cell phone jammer.

He said, “The unauthorized use of cell phones within prisons continues to pose a serious challenge, and my ministry is determined to find a more effective means of curtailing their use. In this regard, we are seeking the installation of a cellular telephone jammer to selectively block the use of cell phones within the prison compound by persons who are unauthorized to make use of them.”

Prison officials confiscated 240 cell phones from inmates at the prison between January to May this year.

Smuggling contraband is a lucrative business.  Former inmates told The Nassau Guardian recently that they have paid from $200 to $1,000 for cell phones.  According to those inmates, prices differ depending on the inmates’ relationship with the guards, the type of phone and their location in the prison.  An inmate claimed that guards allegedly  kept his phone overnight and charged it to reduce the chances of it being confiscated in a raid.

News reports have documented incidents where inmates at the prison have used the devices to intimidate witnesses, plan escapes, orchestrate crimes and even order hits.

A man accused of murder reportedly had a bail application denied after prosecutors alleged that he had contacted an eyewitness and promised that she would be the victim of a 187, the street code for murder.

However, some inmates said not everyone with an illegal cell phone uses it for a sinister purpose.

“Everyone doesn’t have a phone to do foolishness. Sometimes you just want to contact your loved ones,” an inmate said.  “If we had phone access like a prison in (a) foreign (country), they could monitor the conversations.”

In a prior interview, Turnquest said guards could face dismissal or other disciplinary sanctions if caught smuggling phones. Inmates found with phones could have time added to their sentences or face further criminal charges if it is found their phones were used to commission an ‘egregious criminal act.”

Turnquest said the government was committed to eliminating cell phone usage at the prison. Officials purchased a cell phone jammer following the murder of Cpl. Deon Bowles during a prison escape in 2006.  However, the device blocked phones outside the prison compound, which is located in a residential community.

A police investigator told an inquest into Bowles’ death that inmates had given him the names of guards responsible for smuggling contraband.


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Peshawar Jail to Jam Cellphones

This article demonstrates that illegal prison cell phones are a problem around the world, with most prison authorities turning to cell phone jammers to block the signals of contraband prison cell phones smuggled into penal institutions.

The authorities at Peshawar, Pakistan central jail will soon install jammers to sever cellphone link of hardened criminals and militants with their accomplices outside the facility.

“Criminals stay in touch with their accomplices from inside the prisons and issue them directives for illegal activities,” official sources told Dawn and said that more security arrangements were needed at Peshawar prison, where many hardened criminals and militants had been kept.

They said that jammers would also be installed phase-wise at other jails to trace and check the flow of drugs and other forbidden items into the prisons.

Located close to government offices and courts, Peshawar central jail has the capacity to accommodate about 800 inmates, but these days over 2,000 under trial and convicted prisoners have been kept there.

This jail is considered to be one of the most sensitive prisons of the province, as it also holds suspected militants belonging to Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat Mohammadi (TNSM). Maulana Sufi Mohammad, head of the TNSM, is also being tried inside this jail.

“Many of the under-trial militants in the jail are a serious security threat,” the sources said.

Talking to this reporter, Noor Alam Khan, chairperson of Voice of Prisoners, said that he had seen prisoners misusing cell phones for crimes such as kidnapping for ransom and narcotics smuggling.

“Criminal networks stay in touch with each other and coordinate crimes by using cell phones,” he said.

He said that the authorities should take effective security measures and also keep a strict check on supply or sale of SIMs to the prisoners, which could not be possible without the role of some jail staff.

Mr Khan suggested that jail authorities should provide legal means of communication for the prisoners by installing public call office (PCO). He said that in the absence of any PCO many prisoners relied on cell phones to communicate with their families or `friends`.

The officials said that the government had allocated Rs10 million for acquiring security equipment like cell phone jammers, anti-riot instruments, walki-talkies and screens or metal detectors for the Peshawar jail.


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