CorrectionsOne has published an interview with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary, Matt Cate. Cate oversees 33 adult prisons and four juvenile facilities throughout California, with a budget of nearly 10 billion dollars. Right now, CDCR has approximately 160,000 inmates, 105,000 parolees, and 1,100 juvenile offenders (including in and out-of-state housing).
As part of that interview, he discusses the problem of smuggled cell phones in California prisons. Cate is quoted as stating, “There’s a pretty strong lobby of folks who argue that cellphones should be allowed because inmates use them to contact family and that encourages family unification, but with so many instances of violence against staff and civilians on the outside it just gets really frustrating that people don’t recognize it yet.”
Cellphones can in fact be provided to meet that legitimate need. They just have to be cellphones that provide the same level of security, control and monitoring that is available with traditional prison telecommunications systems. The meshDETECT secure cell phone solution offers those benefits and more.
Here is the relevant excerpt from that interview:
C1: You have a huge cellphone contraband problem in your prison system. As of October 1st of this year, you confiscated 11,400 of them, which breaks last year’s record with three months still to collect more! Are you shocked at these numbers?
MC: I’m not shocked. I’ve seen the numbers go up since 2006. I am troubled and concerned about it. It’s obviously a high-tech state and we’re usually ahead of the curve on those kinds of issues. That can be good and bad.
C1: How are inmates getting them?
MC: A number of different ways. They’re thrown over the fence, through visitors, and even staff in some circumstances.
C1: I have read that prison staff in California aren’t searched, so it’s easy to smuggle cellphones in.
MC: We search anything they bring in, like lunch boxes and those kinds of things. We don’t have airport style security for our staff and the governor has issued an executive order to do some additional work to find out if we can implement that in California. One problem is our prisons are so large, we have 500 staff in a shift change, and that’s a lot of equipment to get through the door in a short period of time. We have to figure out a way to reduce the incidents.
C1: What makes you angry about the crimes prisoners have been able to commit from inside because they’re able to communicate, unmonitored, to the outside with a cellphone?
MC: Part of my anger is that there hasn’t been a lot of recognition as to the dangers. There’s a pretty strong lobby of folks who argue that cellphones should be allowed because inmates use them to contact family and that encourages family unification, but with so many instances of violence against staff and civilians on the outside it just gets really frustrating that people don’t recognize it yet. Just recently the governor made smuggling a cellphone into a prison a criminal act in California.
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