FCC Should Allow Jamming Technology in Prisons

By Ozmint, Jon | Corrections Today, February 2009 | Go to article overview

FCC Should Allow Jamming Technology in Prisons


Ozmint, Jon, Corrections Today


Technology advances at an amazing pace, and criminals figure out how to employ it for illegal purposes at an equally amazing pace. Today, cell phones and related technology are the contraband of choice in America's prisons. From drug dealing to credit card fraud to escapes, cell phones in prisons threaten public safety. They allow inmates to avoid using inmate phone systems, where calls can be monitored and recorded. Recently, witnesses and others have been murdered as a result of "hits" issued by inmates using cell phones.

The Federal Communications Act of 1934 was created "for the purpose of promoting safety of life and property through the use of wire and radio communication." However, now wording from that act and the FCC's own rules prevent jamming technologies from being employed in our prisons. By withholding surgical jamming technology from state and local law enforcement, the Federal Communications Commission violates its own purpose and fails to acknowledge advancing technology.

Contraband can get past even the best detection systems. X-ray scanners, metal detectors, drug and bomb dogs, and the best of search techniques are all creations of human ingenuity, and they can all be defeated by human ingenuity. In South Carolina prisons, we have improved procedures to squeeze the traditional contraband pipelines. As a result, we are now experiencing an increase in what we call throw-overs--efforts to throw, shoot or drop packages containing contraband directly over our fences. This method requires coordination with the throwers on the outside, via cell phones.

There are two ways to deal with the issue of cell phones in prisons. One is detection and location technology. This technology is expensive and imprecise. Further, it is only partially effective because it only works while phones are operating and it requires continuous staffing to monitor and search for phones, SIM cards and parts. The second method, blocking or jamming, is 80 percent cheaper and 100 percent more effective. …

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FCC Should Allow Jamming Technology in Prisons
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