Tag Archives: cell phones

$11M Prison Managed Access Jamming Called “A Complete And Utter Waste Of Money”

managed-access-jamming-failureA cautionary tale for prisons contemplating shelling out millions of dollars for managed access systems to jam contraband cell phones. A prison in New Zealand has spent over $11M (US) in installation and upgrades on a cellular signal jamming system that has not prevented the ongoing use of wireless devices.

Taxpayers have forked out $17 million on cellphone jamming technology for prisons – but inmates continue to be caught with increasing numbers of contraband mobile phones.

Despite a network blocking system designed to stop Mt Eden prisoners using cellphones, footage of a “fight club” found its way out of the Auckland jail and on to social media.

Serco confirmed a cellphone was found during a full search of Mt Eden prison on Monday.

Corrections found 284 of the banned devices in the country’s prisons in the 2013-14 financial year.

The previous financial year the department found 274 cellphones unlawfully held by prisoners or brought in by visitors. It also confiscated 119 phone batteries, 128 chargers and 151 SIM cards.

Corrections’ cellphone jamming system cost a budget-blowing $10.9m to install between 2007 and 2009.  It budgeted $5.7m and nearly $6.7m has been spent since, including almost $2.3m in the first five months of last year on a systems upgrade. That followed a $1.3m spruce-up in 2011, according to records released under the Official Information Act.

Yet it does not seemed to have curbed prisoners’ efforts to smuggle them in – and they would not bother if the phones didn’t work, prison drug and alcohol counsellor Roger Brooking said.

A prison intelligence report this year showed Killer Beez founder Josh Masters was continuing to lead the street gang and arrange drug supply from his prison cell using a smuggled cellphone.

Last year convicted murderer Buddy Campbell used a cellphone to post selfies to his Facebook page while an inmate in Rimutaka prison.

Inmates had previously told Brooking they exploited loopholes, finding they could connect to 2 Degrees when it was first launched, he said.

Brooking said keeping cellphones out of prisoners’ hands to protect the public was a “valid concern”, but $17m could have been better spent on healthcare and counselling.

“I think it’s a complete and utter waste of money.”

The jammers were designed to block cellular access to the internet, Corrections said.

But it would not comment on whether mobile network bands 3G and 4G were covered, saying revealing the information would provide insight to prisoners and their associates.

Corrections national commissioner Jeremy Lightfoot said cellphones were banned to prevent prisoners organising crime, harassing victims and perverting the course of justice.

The department was constantly responding to telecommunications industry evolution in its efforts to keep the public safe.

Current prisoner Arthur Taylor contacted Fairfax to say he was concerned about the cellphone jammers’ radiation, claiming he could see 10 of the devices stationed on his block.

Asked if he thought the jammers worked, Taylor replied: “Cellphone finds were well down before the jammers arrived – due to other security measures.”

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Phones In Cells At NZ’s Newest Prison

Prisoners allowed phones, computers in cellsAs we have commented before, we believe that contraband cell phones are a problem of both supply and demand. Due to the demand for cell phones in prison, there is an active and highly lucrative pipeline of supply. Most prison administrations have focused on restricting the supply of contraband cell phones through detection, jamming and search.

However, like the problem of drug smuggling, without addressing the demand for contraband, the problem will never be solved. In addition to reducing the demand for, and therefore the supply of, contraband cell phones, enhanced access to telecommunications services has the proven, significant, additional benefits of reducing recidivism, improving detainee behavior and increasing officer safety. In New Zealand, a new prison will be installing wall phones in each cell to address these issues.

Regarding the decision to provide enhanced access to telecommunication services, the Corrections Minister defended the policy of phones in every cell. He said it would “not result in a substantial increase in the number of calls being made by prisoners nor changes to who prisoners are calling” but would “reduce the potential for tension in the shared areas around public phones as prisoners will not have to gather and wait to use them”. We believe however, assuming calling is not restricted to a number of calls per day or the typical 15 minutes per call, that call volume will increase, perhaps significantly.

This approach will also allow the prisoners to make personal calls in relative privacy (not secrecy). As one loved on of an inmate in the U.S. commented regarding calls on prison payphones located in common areas, “There’s the desire for privacy. Not secrecy, privacy. Would you want to talk about your personal medical stuff, or talk about your mom’s operation, or tell your sweetie how much you miss them….or talk about being queer or trans, or talk about racist violence around you or talk about prison rape…right out there when maybe the person who was threatening you could hear? Or the guards could hear so they could pick on you some more? Maybe withhold your meds?”

For existing jails and prisons where the installation of a hard-wired wall phone is impractical due to cost and infrastructure limitations, a secure prison cell phone solution such as meshDETECT will achieve the same results with no capital outlays.

Inmates at the country’s newest prison will be allowed to use phones and computers in their cells – but with heavy restrictions and monitoring.

Private prison operator Serco, which has a $840 million, 25-year contract to run the new facility at Wiri, says prisoners’ calls to pre-approved numbers will be monitored, and the computers will not have internet access.

Currently all New Zealand prison cells have televisions, but in the new facility those TVs will double as computer screens with a keyboard and mouse.

“They provide basic computer access for prisoners to work on their studies while locked in their cells,” says Serco director of operations Scott McNairn. “Access to this technology imposes the expectation that prisoners will engage in purposeful activities, such as education, in what can often be an unproductive time in other prisons.”

“Computers are an education tool, they’re an education aid,” Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga told TV3’s The Nation. “They help with building up the skills, building up the education in order for these offenders to go out and get meaningful jobs. We know that’s important.”

As for the phones inside the cells, Mr Lotu-Iiga says they come at “very little cost” to Serco, and will enable prisoners to make regular calls home will help reintegrate them back into society.

“There’s a de-escalation of tension that they’re not lining up behind a public phone in order to use a phone to call their families.”

Mr McNairn says it’s the same system Serco operates in the United Kingdom.

“When Serco introduced this system in UK prisons, it saw significant improvements in prison security, including a marked reduction in attempts to smuggle in mobile phones, a drop in random mandatory drug tests failures, fewer assaults, less bullying and fewer incidents of self-harm.”

Prisoners will only be able to make calls to a list of pre-approved numbers, and will not be able to call one another.

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Solution Overview

meshDETECT is a new solution to the problem of contraband cell phones in prison that also provides enhanced telephone access to detainees and their families.

The very first payphone was installed in a Hartford, Connecticut bank in 1889; the first payphone in a jail was probably installed not too long after. Ironically, this same device, admittedly with very sophisticated back end controls, is still being used in prisons and jails around the world 125 years later; yet when is the last time you personally used a payphone? The reason for this? Cell phones.

It is well documented that contraband cell phones are a significant issue in prisons and jails across the county, and indeed the world. Over 15,000 were confiscated in California alone in 2012. In fact, Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens has stated that, “Illegal cell-phone use in Georgia prisons has developed to “epidemic” proportions and is now the system’s greatest safety threat.”

There is no doubt that the use of unrestricted cell phones in prison is a serious security risk in that some of the use is for criminal activity, however it has been shown that the vast majority of contraband cell phone use is by detainees seeking more frequent and affordable interaction with family and loved ones. Interaction that is now severely restricted by the limited number and shared use of prison payphones.

We believe that contraband cell phones are a problem of both supply and demand. Due to the demand for cell phones in prison, there is an active and highly lucrative pipeline of supply. Most prison administrations have focused on restricting the supply of contraband cell phones through detection, jamming and search. However, like the problem of drug smuggling, without addressing the demand for contraband, the problem will never be solved.

We have developed a solution, called meshDETECT, which helps to reduce the demand for contraband cell phones by siphoning off the legitimate desire for more frequent telephone access between detainees and their loved ones. meshDETECT is a secure prison cell phone solution that gives detainees highly customized cell phones with all the security and control features of prison payphones. This allows those detainees whose only desire is for legitimate, non-criminal contact with family to use wireless technology safely and securely.

By siphoning off and co-opting this non-criminal wireless usage, we significantly reduce the overall demand for contraband cell phones and therefore the profitability for those smuggling these devices. Less financial reward for cell phone smugglers changes the risk/reward equation and makes it much less appealing given the high personal and professional risk for those caught smuggling.

In addition to reducing the demand for, and therefore the supply of, contraband cell phones, enhanced access to telecommunications services has the proven, significant, additional benefits of reducing recidivism, improving detainee behavior and increasing officer safety.

Eventually all technology trends breach the prison walls. In fact, the Department of Justice recently mandated that Federal Bureau of Prison Halfway House detainees be given controlled access to cell phones to facilitate communication with potential employers and family. With meshDETECT, all deserving detainees can benefit from wireless technology, safely and securely.

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New Technologies In Prison

FCC-workshop-meshDETECTToday I participated in the FCC’s Workshop on Inmate Calling Services Reform on the New Technologies panel to consider new and emerging forms of communications in correctional settings beyond the traditional wireline telephone call. Below is the text of my opening statement:

As this workshop is focused on inmate calling services and this panel is specifically targeted to new technologies, I would like to focus my opening comments on a new solution to the problem of contraband cell phones in prison that also provides enhanced telephone access to detainees and their families.

The very first payphone was installed in a Hartford, Connecticut bank in 1889; the first payphone in a jail was probably installed not too long after. Ironically, this same device, admittedly with very sophisticated back end controls, is still being used in prisons and jails around the world 125 years later; yet when is the last time you personally used a payphone? The reason for this? Cell phones.

As many of you maybe aware, contraband cell phones are a significant issue in prisons and jails across the county, and indeed the world. Over 15,000 were confiscated in California alone in 2012. In fact, Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens has stated that, “Illegal cell-phone use in Georgia prisons has developed to “epidemic” proportions and is now the system’s greatest safety threat.”

There is no doubt that the use of unrestricted cell phones in prison is a serious security risk in that some of the use is for criminal activity, however it has been shown that the vast majority of contraband cell phone use is by detainees seeking more frequent and affordable interaction with family and loved ones. Interaction that is now severely restricted by the limited number and shared use of prison payphones.

We believe that contraband cell phones are a problem of both supply and demand. Due to the demand for cell phones in prison, there is an active and highly lucrative pipeline of supply. Most prison administrations have focused on restricting the supply of contraband cell phones through detection, jamming and search. However, like the problem of drug smuggling, without addressing the demand for contraband, the problem will never be solved.

We have developed a solution, called meshDETECT, which helps to reduce the demand for contraband cell phones by siphoning off the legitimate desire for more frequent telephone access between detainees and their loved ones. meshDETECT is a secure prison cell phone solution that gives detainees highly customized cell phones with all the security and control features of prison payphones. This allows those detainees whose only desire is for legitimate, non-criminal contact with family to use wireless technology safely and securely.

By siphoning off and co-opting this non-criminal wireless usage, we significantly reduce the overall demand for contraband cell phones and therefore the profitability for those smuggling these devices. Less financial reward for cell phone smugglers changes the risk/reward equation and makes it much less appealing given the high personal and professional risk for those caught smuggling.

In addition to reducing the demand for, and therefore the supply of, contraband cell phones, enhanced access to telecommunications services has the proven, significant, additional benefits of reducing recidivism, improving detainee behavior and increasing officer safety.

Eventually all technology trends breach the prison walls. In fact, the Department of Justice recently mandated that Federal Bureau of Prison Halfway House detainees be given controlled access to cell phones to facilitate communication with potential employers and family. With meshDETECT, all deserving detainees can benefit from wireless technology, safely and securely.

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Mobility In Corrections

GTL-copies-meshDETECTWe 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 required so as not to thwart drug sniffing dogs? Are there additional revenue generating opportunities for correctional facilities such as a limited selection of downloadable movies the inmates may rent? How do these offerings co-exist in an environment where contraband cell phones are not permitted?

A workshop to openly discuss the questions above and many more is the purpose of this overview and discussion. Technology, however, cannot function alone without well thought out policy and guidelines. The potential exists to enable the simultaneous missions of incarceration, rehabilitation and reduced recidivism while ensuring the safety of staff, the inmates and the outside world. Through a successful partnership between corrections and the private sector, these challenges can be achieved.

Source (Page 20)

(For more information on this strategy, see our whitepaper “Reducing the Demand for Contraband Cell Phones in Correctional Facilities” which can be accessed by clicking on the download link to the right.)

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Dogs Trained To Sniff Out Cell Phones

A news report about smuggled cell phone sniffing dogs used in the Arizona Department of Corrections. Highlights from the report include:

  • The dogs spend 9 weeks — 320 hours — learning how to detect cell phones.
  • Contraband wireless phones that can be bought for as little as $40 on the outside go for as much as $800-1,200 on the inside. They’re smuggled in by friends and family during visits, by staff, even purchased during work detail.
  • The dogs are taught to locate and alert DOC officers to four distinct chemicals found in cell phones — ferric chloride, used to etch circuit board, rosin, promotes soldering, epoxy, used to fabricate the printed circuit board and lithium ion, gas from the battery.
  • One dog is stationed in every Arizona state prison, except the Phoenix facility, which is much smaller than the others.

 

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CDCR To Block Prison Cell Phones Via Managed Access Jamming System

The CDCR recently issued a bid for its inmate telephone services and made the installation of wireless managed access jamming systems in its prisons a requirement for the bidders. Global Tel*Link (GTL) has won that bid and will therefore be bearing the cost of installing these systems. Given the high cost of this selective jamming technology and GTL’s commitment not to raise the cost of calls for prisoners, either the CDCR is taking a much lower commission on the calls or GTL is taking a haircut on its profits.

Managed access has previously been installed at the Parchman correctional facility in Mississippi. Although the jamming system has blocked most contraband cell phone usage, there have been some noteworthy breaches.

Update (4/18/12):Global Tel expects to have the blocking technology running at the California State Prison in Solano by the end of the year and at all prisons within three years.

The state won’t share in the profits Global Tel makes from the collect calls, but the company will pay an estimated $1 million for implementation and installation at each of the state’s 33 prisons.

Global Tel will also pay an $800,000 annual fee to the California Technology Agency for the contract, and the agency will make sure the Mobile, Ala.-based firm doesn’t hike calling rates, according to the contract.

The deal will mean slightly lower rates for collect calls than prisoners currently pay. A 15-minute local call will cost $1.50, while a 15-minute in-state, long-distance call will cost about $2, a decrease of a penny a minute. A 15-minute interstate call will cost $6.60, a decrease of nearly 22 cents a minute.

Update (5/9/12): the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) released a report today advising the State of California to use security screening systems, similar to those in airports, in state prisons before investing millions in the untested MAS technology intended to block calls by inmates from contraband cell phones.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) today announced a “groundbreaking and momentous” contract awarded to Global Tel*Link (GTL) designed to eliminate the contraband cell phone use by inmates.

Under the contract, GTL will also provide the Inmate/Ward Telephone System (IWTS) for inmates to make domestic and international calls from an authorized phone network.

“Inmates have used cell phones to commit more crimes, organize assaults on staff, and terrorize victims,” CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate said. “This groundbreaking and momentous technology will enable CDCR to crack down on the potentially dangerous communications by inmates.”

Managed Access technology uses a secure cellular umbrella over a specified area blocking unauthorized cellular communication transmissions, such as e-mails, texts, phone calls, or Internet access.

Implementation of the Managed Access System will come at no cost to taxpayers. GTL is responsible for all implementation costs, including new installation of equipment and services, as well as the costs of operating this technology at CDCR institutions. GTL, in return, receives the revenue generated from the ITWS services.

CDCR anticipates the Managed Access System to be operational at its first institution by the end of the year with other institutions to follow.

The Federal Communications Commission supports Managed Access technology as a lawful means to effectively stop the use of contraband cell phones in prisons.

In October 2011, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed Senate Bill (SB) 26 (Padilla) into law. Under SB 26 it is a misdemeanor, with a possible fine of up to $5,000 per device, for possessing or attempting to introduce an unauthorized cell phone in a prison. The misdemeanor prosecution and fines apply to staff, contractors and visitors. Penalties for inmates include up to 90 days loss of good-time credits.

SB 26 prohibited the company from raising rates for collect calls on the Inmate/Ward Telephone System. In fact, called parties will realize a reduced rate under the new contract. The new IWTS will provide additional enhancements including multiple payment options for inmates and their families. The California Technology Agency, which owns and administers the contract, will monitor service to ensure there are no additional charges applied to calls.

In 2011, CDCR tested the Managed Access technology at two institutions. The test was conducted over an 11-day period for approximately eight hours a day. During the test, the equipment detected a total of 2,593 unique wireless devices. The equipment blocked more than 25,000 unauthorized communication attempts, such as calls, texts, emails, and efforts to log on to the Internet from a smart phone.

In 2007, CDCR staff discovered nearly 1,400 contraband cell phones. In 2008, it was 2,800; in 2009, 6,995; in 2010, approximately 10,760; in 2011, more than 15,000; and to date this year, 2,181 contraband cell phones have been discovered in prisons and Conservation Camps.

Source

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Contraband Prison Cell Phones On The Rise In Canada

The challenge in reducing prison contraband, whether it is smuggled cell phones or drugs, is addressing not only the supply, but the demand for the contraband. As noted in the article below, “spending on substance abuse programs has fallen to $9 million from $11 million in the past two years. The demand is there, the need is there and we’re seeing much of that need being unmet.”

Just as there are substance abuse programs in prison to reduce the demand for drugs, there must be a demand-side strategy to address the desire for contraband cell phones. With meshDETECT, the prisoner desire for more communication with family is met in a secure and compliant manner.

Cocaine, alcohol, explosives, knives and handcuff keys are part of the haul at federal prisons as officials across the country struggle with a rising tide of contraband.

Between 2007 and 2011, the amounts of drugs, intoxicants, weapons and other unauthorized items confiscated by prison staff has steadily risen, in some cases by more than 170 per cent, according to documents obtained by the Star.

The number of seizures of intoxicants, for example — LSD, THC, amphetamines and steroids, to name just a few — rose to 1,779 in 2010-11, up from 1,295 three years earlier.

Similarly, the number of seizures of weapons, including razor blades, homemade knives, firearms, explosives and pipes, rose by 22 per cent to 900 over the same period.

Perhaps most striking is the surge in seizures of other unauthorized items, such as cellphones, tattoo-making materials, lock picks and rope, from 991 to 2,697.

What the numbers don’t say is whether the amount of contraband items smuggled into prisons is increasing or whether a recent push by the government to intercept these materials is paying off.

“I suspect that detection is getting better, so you do see an increase in seizures,” said Howard Sapers, Canada’s Correctional Investigator. “What we really don’t know is whether drug use inside prisons is up or down, whether the presence of weapons is greater or lesser than it used to be.”

In August 2008, the federal government pledged $122 million over five years in an effort to eliminate drugs from federal prisons. The funding went toward purchasing additional security equipment, such as drug ion scanners and X-ray machines, increasing the number of drug-detecting dog teams, and was intended to improve security intelligence both inside and outside prisons.

Among the goals, according to the government, are more successful rehabilitations and a safer system for guards and the country’s 14,000 federal inmates.

The Star also asked CSC for the number of employees disciplined for bringing contraband items into prison, but the agency said it did not have any such records. However, last September, Don Head, commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada, told a parliamentary committee that it had dismissed 12 staff members that year for smuggling contraband into prisons.

Inmates caught with contraband material face a variety of sanctions, depending on the nature and seriousness of the transgression. Disciplinary measures include warnings, loss of privileges, an order to make restitution, fines, performance of extra duties, segregation from other inmates and, in some cases, the laying of criminal charges.

NDP public safety critic Jasbir Sandhu notes that while seizures of drugs appear to be increasing, the percentage of offenders testing positive for illegal drugs in CSC’s own random urinalysis tests has remained steady at around seven per cent since 2007-08.

“They’re spending $122 million to stop drugs coming in, but that hasn’t happened because the urinalysis results haven’t changed,” Sandhu said. “The benefit to the taxpayer has been zero.”

Jason Godin, regional president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, which represents 6,800 federal officers, says tracking down contraband has become increasingly challenging as inmates develop new and creative ways to smuggle items inside.

“We’ve seen everything from things inside stuffed animals, tennis balls and drugs tied onto arrows and shot into the yard with a crossbow,” Godin said.

He added that offender profiles have changed over the last 15 years, with a larger percentage of inmates more likely to be affiliated with gangs. The relationships developed with other gang members on the outside have resulted in greater complexity when it comes to smuggling contraband, he said.

While there is little debate over the need to have good detection of contraband materials, Sapers said he is alarmed by the government’s recent shift away from treatment programs in favour of beefed-up security measures.

“We’ve been encouraging the service to increase its programming and treatment capacity, and often these are linked to addiction and mental health,” Sapers said.

He noted that spending on substance abuse programs has fallen to $9 million from $11 million in the past two years.

“The demand is there, the need is there and we’re seeing much of that need being unmet.”

CSC could not provide the Star with budget expenditures for 2010-11 due to “temporary technical issues,” but a 2010 overview of the agency pegs total corrections expenditures 2008-09 at $2.28 billion, up nearly 40 per cent since 2004-05. The average cost of keeping an inmate incarcerated rose from $87,919 to $109,699.

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Video: Prison Shakedown Finds Contraband Cell Phones

Each of the Wilcox State Prison’s 1,862 inmates were strip searched, then removed from their cells and placed in a holding room. Officers then entered two at a time, sometimes accompanied by a member of the K-9 unit.

By the end of the shakedown, officers had confiscated 32 cell phones, 21 weapons and small amounts of marijuana and meth. Most of the items were well hidden: behind walls, in ceilings or inside of a broken sink.

They said their biggest focus is finding and removing cell phones. Prison warden Robert Toole said they are just as dangerous as weapons.

“Once that one cell phone makes it in, it just opens up the flood gates,” he said. “It allows inmates to communicate, to carry on criminal activity outside the walls. It allows inmates to intimidate possible witnesses.”

Contraband cell phones can be replaced by the meshDETECT secure cell phone solution to reduce the demand for smuggled cell phones and control their use for criminal activity

Source

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No Cell Phones In The Cell Block

Illinois becomes the latest state DOC to investigate the use of legislation and technology to block the use of smuggled cell phones in prison. Although the use of contraband cell phones seems to be less of a problem than in other large inmate population states.

That’s the latest message from state officials, who are poised to start cracking down on people who try to smuggle portable phones into prison.

Faced with the prospect that inmates could be using smuggled cellphones to plan escapes or run criminal enterprises, the Illinois Department of Corrections is asking companies how much it would cost for them to install special equipment at Illinois’ nearly 30 prisons that might detect whether illegal cellphone calls are being made from within the prison walls.

The scanning technology is just one front in the state’s battle against cellphones.

State Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago, recently introduced legislation that would strip an inmate of up to 90 days of credit against their sentences if they are found in possession of a cellular phone.

The push in Illinois comes just a month after California approved similar measures designed to stop the flow of cellphones into their prison system. The sponsor of that legislation said the number of cellphones confiscated in California prisons grew from 261 in 2006 to more than 10,700 in 2010.

In Illinois, however, Corrections’ officials say the number of cellphones flowing into the prison system is a mere trickle.

“It is not a common occurrence. The average is about five cellphones confiscated per year, but we are at eight for this year, so it is up a little,” said IDOC spokeswoman Sharyn Elman.

It has been a problem elsewhere.

A National Institute of Justice report on cellphones in prison notes a number of examples where phones played a role in potential crimes.

In Nevada, the report noted, prison officials fired a dental assistant for helping an inmate get a cellphone to plan a successful escape. In New York, an inmate used a cellphone to orchestrate an attempted escape while on a medical transfer.

The federal report added that prison officials in Tennessee banned jars of peanut butter after learning that an inmate accused in the shooting death of a guard had used a jar to hide the cellphone he used to coordinate his escape.

For now, Illinois officials are not saying how much they are willing to spend on one of a number of potential systems designed to thwart inmates from using cellphones smuggled to them in prisons.

“We have no plans to utilize this service at this point,” Elman added. “We are simply requesting information to learn more about what is available.”

In the meantime, Illinois inmates are still allowed some phone privileges using older, landline technology.

Under current state prison rules, all inmates have an approved list of numbers they are allowed to call using phones at each prison. For general population offenders who are not under any disciplinary measures there is no limit on collect calls or prepaid calls. The phone system will disconnect the call after 20 minutes but the offender can then dial it again if no one is waiting for the phone.

“If an offender is under any form of discipline his or her phone privileges can be limited to one call per month or no calls at all,” Elman noted.

Source

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