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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