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Prisons Look To Technology To Deter Contraband Cell Phones

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, March 10, 2011
By Julie Small
Four years ago, California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation confiscated 14-hundred cell phones from inmates and staff.  
Last year, they seized 10-thousand.  Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton says prison officials are looking at new technology that can block individual cell phone signals.
Terry Thornton: "Basically, you create this list of approved phone numbers and any text or call that's coming from a phone other than what's on that list doesn't get through."
One Mississippi prison uses the signal-blocking technology.  Corrections officials in California will test it out this spring in a couple of prisons here.   
They also hope to use some low tech-solutions to combat the problem.
Corrections officials can discipline employees that violate department policy against unauthorized cell phones in prison.  
They can reduce good time credits for inmates caught with phones.  And they can prosecute an inmate caught with a cell phone - but only if they can prove it was used it to commit a crime.  
That's why Corrections officials want state lawmakers to make it a crime to have a cell phone inside a prison.
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