Maryland Prison to Test Cellphone Jamming Technology

According to a February 16 Wall Street Journal article, Maryland will be the site of the first federally sanctioned test of technology that can jam cellphone signals within a prison or jail.  The test results may influence legislation pending before both the United States House of Representatives and Senate to let States make use of the technology.

The Federal Communication Commission can only allow federal agencies—not state or local authorities—permission to jam cellphone signals. But a bill that passed the Senate and awaits action by the House would allow states to petition the FCC to block the use of cellphones from prisons.

Testing is set to begin Wednesday at the Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, said Shaun Adamec, spokesman for Gov. Martin O’Malley. The governor has strongly backed allowing states to use the jamming technology to battle the growing problem of cellphone use in prisons.

The Maryland General Assembly considered two bills, HB 61 and HB 78, that would have increased the penalties for an inmate to posses a cellphone or for a person to deliver a cellphone to an inmate.  MACo supported HB 78.  However, the House Judiciary Committee gave both bills an unfavorable report.

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