Cellphones becoming the hottest black market contraband in prisons

Cellphones becoming the hottest black market contraband in prisons
With their small size making it easy to smuggle into prison, cellphones have become one of the hottest commodities in the black market behind bars. In some places, the asking price for a handset is higher than the price of drugs. John Moriarty, the inspector general for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice says that some phones are going for as much as $2,000. Moriarty says that all it takes is one crooked prison worker to populate an entire prison with phones. Over 1,200 units sit in a law enforcement evidence room in the state, confiscated last year after reaching inmates, or on the way to them.

The whole system of getting the cellphones into a prison cell requires help from family members and friends on the outside. The phones are usually pre-paid models which are harder to trace. Once stolen, the phone is charged up with minutes and brought to a drop point where a crooked guard will smuggle it into the cell. Think of the tactics involved in a prison escape and then reverse them and you will get an idea of what is involved in sneaking the devices in to prison. Because most of the prison workers are not paid well, finding one who is willing to take the risk of carrying the phone behind bars is not too hard considering that he is the key person in making the scheme work. Texas currently has a bill sponsored by a State Senator that would create harsh penalties for any inmate caught with a cellphone in prison. The bill would also allow for monitoring of cell signals inside the walls.

Other solutions are being planned out at both the state and federal level. In January,  U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (Tex-R) introduced a bill that would allow prisons to jam cellphone signals within its walls. Last month, the Governor of Maryland, Martin O'Malley, asked for the same thing. But some states are relying on low tech methods to stop the cellphone smuggling. In Arizona, for example, dogs are being trained to sniff out handsets.

source: CNN

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