New Technology Targets Contraband Cell Phone Calls in Jails

An April 20 article discusses a State pilot program that would will test new technology that can selectively block cell phone transmissions in State and local correctional facilities.  The State is paying almost $2 million to Tecore Networks to install a cellphone access system at Baltimore’s Metropolitan Transition Center.  Unlike previous attempts to prevent unauthorized cell phone use by jamming signals, the proposed system will monitor incoming cell phone signals and block any call not going to an authorized number.  Calls going to authorized numbers will be allowed through.   

The use of unmonitored phones by inmates has reached epidemic levels in correctional facilities across the country, posing a threat to public safety, correctional officers and inmates, said Gary D. Maynard, secretary of the Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services.

“Inmates who have smuggled cell phones into prison are able to continue to communicate with persons on the streets [and] in some cases committing crimes while they’re in prison,” Maynard said.  …

The Tecore system has successfully been deployed by the Mississippi Department of Corrections since 2010, when 216,320 calls from as many as 600 phones were blocked in the first month. California prison officials announced this week that a similar screening program would be undertaken there.

Telecommunications industry lobbyists oppose jamming technologies because they could disrupt service outside a targeted area and create chaos in emergency situations. CTIA – The Wireless Association supports managed-access technologies, calling the Mississippi program a “tremendous success.”


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