Cellphone-sniffing dogs smell out contraband handsets
Last week, N.J. Attorney General Anne Milgram announced charges against 35 inmates for Cellphone possession with a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Of the 35 charged, all but 10 are reputed gang members and some of the calls intercepted were about inmates plotting retaliation against other gang members. "This is not what should be happening when we put criminals behind bars," observed Milgram.
Some states are not waiting for legislation. Some prisons are using scanning equipment hidden in chairs to find handsets. When cellphones were discovered hidden in snacks purchased by family members from vending machines in waiting areas, the machines were removed. Virginia and New Jersey have used specially trained dogs to help sniff out contraband phones. Inmates have hidden devices in light fixtures, body cavities and Bibles. Some have even tried to hide them in jars of peanut butter to throw off the dogs. In the last year, New Jersey prison authorities have confiscated 400 phones, 126 battery chargers, 9 batteries and 1 Bluetooth device.