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Cell phone smuggling a growing problem in prisons

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  • Cell phone smuggling a growing problem in prisons

    Cell phone smuggling a growing problem in prisons
    By Michael Biesecker
    (Raleigh) News & Observer
    Posted: Wednesday, Sep. 02, 2009

    RALEIGH -- Mobile phones can make their way into state prisons in hollowed-out books and hidden inside tennis ***** tossed over fences.

    Often, they're smuggled in to inmates by prison employees looking to make quick cash.

    Now guards caught smuggling mobile phones or cigarettes to inmates could find themselves locked up. A new law signed Friday by Gov. Beverly Perdue makes it a crime to sell or give state inmates wireless communications devices or tobacco products, punishable by up to 120 days in jail.

    Cigarettes have long substituted for currency behind bars. But for the state prison system, the illicit use of phones by inmates is a growing problem.

    "It's a huge issue for us, as it is [for] prison systems all across the country," said Keith Acree, spokesman for the state Department of Correction. "We're finding hundreds of cell phones a year inside prisons."

    Correction Secretary Alvin W. Keller Jr. was among several leaders across the country who recently signed a petition to the Federal Communications Commission, seeking permission to scramble mobile phone signals in prisons.

    So far this year, North Carolina correction officials have taken about 250 mobile phones from inmates, more than the number seized in all of 2008.

    Administrators concede that many of the phones are being brought into prison by guards looking to make a buck. Pre-paid phones available at Walmart for as little as $15 can sell for $300 in prison. Called "burners" because they are so cheap as to be disposable, the phones are sold without registration, making them nearly impossible to trace back to the original purchaser.

    State policy already bars prison employees from bringing phones to work. Those caught smuggling are often fired, but until now there has been no criminal penalty.

    "If you're an employee who forgets and brings a personal cell phone in your purse, we're not going to confiscate that," Acree said. "But if you're caught with five pre-paid cell phones in a bag, it's pretty obvious what you're up to."

    Sen. Charles W. Albertson, the primary sponsor of the new law, said inmates use the phones to stay in touch with the outside world, continuing their criminal enterprises, coordinating gang activities or even planning escapes.

    "I was told that one of the inmates even complained that when he got in a certain place in the cell block, his phone did not work," said Albertson, a Beulaville Democrat with several prisons in his district. "He couldn't get reception. Not too bright, I don't think."

    Cell phone smuggling a growing problem in prisons -
    Through Thick and Thin, I'm ridin with him until the end....

  • #2
    I notice that Jpay sensored the word "b@lls" in the beginning of the article, as in tennisballs. Last time I checked, B@LLS is NOT a bad word, and is in fact nuetral....baseballs, basketballs, footballs, soccerballs, etc..........
    IF you don't already kno, u betta ask somebody!


    • #3
      In 2010, over 8000 cell phones were confiscated in California prisons.