A recent trial before the Samaria Military Court revealed a startling connection between Palestinians and the employee of at least one Israeli cell phone company − a connection that resulted in Palestinian prisoners obtaining working cell phones, even though they are forbidden to have them.
Contraband cellphones are a massive problem in prisons – now there’s a way to see who’s using one. A way of pinpointing exactly where a call is coming from could help clamp down on the practice. New Scientist reports.
A team at Intelligent Automation Inc (IAI) of Rockville, Maryland, has now found a way to pinpoint the prison cell that a call is coming from. This has not been done before, says IAI engineer Benjamin Lonske, because the signals in a prison wing are just too messy to analyse. "Inside, there are a lot of radio waves from phones bouncing off the cell doors, walls and stairs," he says. This foils attempts to triangulate the source of the signal.
By installing four 5-centimetre antennas at the corners of the building of interest, IAI has managed to locate a phone in use to within 50 centimetres, the team says.
For nearly 10 years a petition seeking to lower the rates prisoners and their families pay to talk on the phone has languished before the FCC. The Atlantic reports.
Over nearly two decades while he was in prison, Ulandis Forte would call his grandmother, Martha Wright-Reed, a couple of times a week and talk for about 15 minutes or less. The bill? Somewhere around $1,000 each year, Wright-Reed estimates.
To call home, America's prisoners (well, really their families, who accept the calls collect) pay rates many times what you or I spend on phone calls, the consequence of a dysfunctional marketplace in which the users have no choice but the phones provided -- literally a captive market -- and prison administrators can exact exorbitant commissions for providing the service.
The Russian Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) is considering tougher punishment, including extra prison time, for inmates who use mobile phones, Izvestia daily reported on Tuesday. RIA Novosti reports.
A source from the Federal Penitentiary Service said tougher punishment for mobile phone use is needed to maintain discipline and order inside prisons.
But rights activists say the move is aimed at stemming a stream of complaints from prisoners who use the phones to report beatings and other abuses in prisons and jails.
Russian prisons currently prohibit mobile phones. A prisoner caught with one faces up to 10 days in solitary confinement. But prison officials say that has not been an effective deterrent.
Despite regular monitoring and checks, prisons and penal colonies are literally flooded with the phones.
According to The Telegraph, prisons in the UK are to be given gadgets that block mobile phone signals in order to stop inmates committing more crimes while behind bars.
The Ministry of Justice says that handsets smuggled into jails are being used by offenders to harass victims, organise gangs and deal drugs on the outside.
It has already carried out trials of jamming equipment, which is illegal if used in public, and is about to give portable devices to some prison governors.
And next week the Government will back a Bill proposed by a Conservative MP that would allow the authorities to track mobile calls attempted by criminals as well as stop them getting through to their associates.
... Trials have demonstrated that equipment can be capable of denying signals to illicit mobile phones within the prison perimeter as required by law and Ofcom regulations, but that this is not a quick, simple or cheap solution,” said Crispin Blunt, the prisons minister. One expert claimed it would cost £250,000 ($392,000) to block signals at a single jail.
For some time now, therapists have conducted sessions online to counsel patients on everything from autism to recovery from having an affair. For a while, there was even a TV show about it.
Reasons for its use include geographical distance between therapist and client, convenience, and of course, cost.
But now it’s coming to prison. Correctional healthcare providers recently deployed a two-way telehealth V2VIP service, videophones and iV2VIP video softphones for low-cost, face-to-face mental health consultations over mobile devices nationally, according to a press release.
Two-way video communication reduces travel expense, reimbursements, risks and liabilities; minimize on-site visits and inmate transports, while maintaining high-quality healthcare service delivery.
State corrections officials say they have come up with a no-cost plan to stop the illegal use of cell phones inside prisons by inmates, a problem that has plagued the prison system for years. The Sacramento Bee reports.
Corrections officails announced today that Global Tel Link has been awarded a contract for inmates to use the company's service to make calls from each prison's authorized telephone system.
The company will receive revenues from those phone calls and will use the proceeds of that deal to install systems to block unauthorized cell signals at prisons, including phone calls, text messages, emails and attempts to access the Internet.
The system was tested last year at two prisons over an 11-day period for about eight hours a day, officials said, and blocked more than 25,000 unauthorized cell signals.
Chartered Health Plan, Inc. is launching a new text-messaging program for its diabetic members that will disseminate diabetes-related information on their mobile phones to keep members involved in their own care. Chartered executives also said they plan to establish personal health records for their members.
The pilot will start with 50 members and is built on ACS-America's Suniyea platform, which uses SMS on cellphones and smartphones to create health awareness. Chartered members will receive text messages with information such as when to contact a doctor, nutrition tips, interactive quizzes, and alerts on community events. Chartered Health Plan officials estimate that approximately 2,000 of their members are insulin-dependent diabetics.
Currently, Chartered executives say they make regular phone calls and have face-to-face meetings to monitor their members. By adding a text-messaging service they hope to encourage members to play a more active role in managing their condition.
The federal government confiscated more than 21,000 cellphones in 2010 from inmates in correctional facilities nationwide. Prison security officials have longed battled contraband, such as cellphones and now a Maryland company may have an answer. 11News reports.
Security Products ITT is marketing Cell Hound, its technology that can alert prison officials as soon as a cellphone call is made. Company director Terry Vittner said the technology is better than cellphone jamming, which creates radio frequency pollution. The pollution prevents calls from going out or coming into the facility.
Cell Hound can also used by businesses that want to know if workers are on the phone during critical work hours.
According to The New York Post, Rickers Island is getting their own cell phone sniffing dog. These dogs which coast $ 6,000 are able to zero in on lithium batteries, chargers and earpieces.
How are they trained to do that? When asked, Sharman Stein, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Correction, "declined to provide details about the dogs or their training -- refusing even to disclose the name of the new recruit. She cited “security reasons.’’
Well, we know the name of first cell phone sniffing dog, his name was Murphy. He was an English Springer Spaniel who made his debut at Norwich prison in 2006.
California prison inmates caught with cellphones will face more time behind bars, and those smuggling the devices in from outside could also be locked up, under a measure signed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown. The Los Angeles Times reports.
The new law will take away up to 90 days of good-behavior credits from convicts caught with the devices. Visitors and prison employees found trying to smuggle them into prison face misdemeanor charges with penalties of up to six months in jail and fines of $5,000 for each one confiscated.
About 10,700 of the phones were confiscated in state prisons last year; offenders included mass murderer Charles Manson.
According to prison officials, successive raids for contraband goods had made some prisoners furious. They turned against the prison authorities for seizing the banned materials. On Wednesday night, over 350 convict prisoners from 3, 4, 5 and 8 blocks of the central prison had started their hunger protest.
A remote-controlled helicopter that crashed near a prison in Ratchaburi in Thailand was being used to smuggle mobile phones and phone parts to inmates, police said yesterday, according to Asia One.
Seven mobile phones, four satellite mobile phones, a number of SIM cards, eight mobile phone batteries and three mobile phone screens were found among the wreckage of the helicopter, Ratchaburi provincial police said.
Police said the wreckage of the remote-controlled chopper was found 500 meters from Khaobin Central Prison, but there was no sign of its operator.
The objects intended for smuggling were stored inside a shockproof box attached beneath the helicopter, they said.
Governor Martin O’Malley today announced that Maryland has received $350,000 in federal funds to intensify the effort to tackle the problem of cell phones in Baltimore prisons. The competitive federal grant is designed to fund “innovative strategies for confronting emerging or chronic systemic issues.” The BayNet reports.
... This grant is the latest development in the State’s innovative and aggressive efforts to tackle this issue, including training its own cell phone sniffing K-9 Units, investing $1 million into prison entrance security technology, and developing correctional intelligence efforts and cell phone data extraction and analysis capabilities.
Dozens of Americans who claim to have been made ill by wi-fi and mobile phones have flocked to the town of Green Bank, West Virginia. The BBC reports.
More than five billion people use mobile phones worldwide and advances in wireless technology make it increasingly difficult to escape the influence of mobile devices. But while most Americans seem to embrace continuous connectivity, some believe it's making them physically ill.
Diane Schou is one of an estimated 5% of Americans who believe they suffer from Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS), which they say is caused by exposure to electromagnetic fields typically created by cell phones, wi-fi and other electronic equipment.
Symptoms range from acute headaches, skin burning, muscle twitching and chronic pain.
Her symptoms were so severe that she abandoned her family farm in the state of Iowa and moved to Green Bank, West Virginia - a tiny village of 143 residents in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains.
Green Bank is part of the US Radio Quiet Zone, where wireless is banned across 13,000 sq miles (33,000 sq km) to prevent transmissions interfering with a number of radio telescopes in the area.
In 2008, 1,774 cell phones were seized. By the end of 2010 that number had skyrocketed to 8,656. The report looked at the issue in federal prisons as well as institutions in eight states. The numbers were not complete for all the states, but in California 900 phones were discovered in 2007 and a whopping 10,700 were found in 2010.
... The report was completed in July but an edited version was not made available to the public until Tuesday. Details about how inmates manage to get the phones and the technologies used to detect them were taken out. But the document does say the Bureau of Prisons has tried out a radio frequency sensor system in two institutions. The sensors show when a cell phone is being used and shows the approximate location of the phone on a computer screen.
Thousands of inmates in California's state prisons have access to contraband mobile phones and are updating their Facebook accounts, and now the state is asking the social network to close them down. NBC Bay Area reports.
In 2006, that number was only 260. Prisoners are apparently using those phones to surf the Web and update Facebook accounts, so now the department is working with Facebook to shut down accounts that have been updated since the prisoner's incarceration.
Phones smuggled in prisons are a recurring issue all over the word, with stories of inmates using the phones to carry on their business from the inside. But accessing phone booths in jail - too few for too many - leads to violence amongst inmates, frustrated not to be able to reach their families.
But now, reports The Guardian, an English prison has come up with a brilliant yet simple idea:
At Lowdham Grange, a category-B prison in Nottingham, prisoners can make phone calls from landlines in their cells 24 hours a day. Prisoners there submit a list of numbers to be approved, then pay in advance for their calls, which can be monitored.
"The introduction of in-cell telephony at Lowdham Grange was followed by significant improvements in prison security, including a marked reduction in attempts to smuggle mobile phones into the establishment," says Vicky O'Dea, prisons operations director at Serco. "The number of prisoners failing random mandatory drug tests also fell following the introduction of the scheme."
In most states, if you smuggle a cell phone into a prison, you’ll end up spending time in prison - but not in California, according to SCPR.
California has no law to keep contraband cell phones from inmates. Law enforcement officials and most lawmakers agree California needs one, but it’s unlikely to pass this year - because it costs too much.
... Deputy Corrections Director Richard Subia says prison staff confiscated 11,000 cell phones from inmates last year. "We’ve found them in walls, put down inside of walls, inside of toilets, in peanut butter, in garlic..." Subia says you’d be surprised.
Subia says prison visitors, men and women, young and old, smuggle phones to inmates. So does a full spectrum of prison workers. "We had an officer that we stopped in one of our Northern California prisons who said he made $100,000 one year for bringing in cell phones."
The Department of Corrections fires staff that smuggle cell phones into prisons. But the Attorney General can’t prosecute them or the inmates that use the phones unless a phone was used to commit a crime. State Senator Alex Padilla (D-San Fernando Valley) says that’s not good enough.
Padilla told the Senate Appropriation Committee last week, "There are no consequences either for the inmates who are caught with cell phones and there is no consequence for either a visitor or an employee who is caught smuggling cell phones in, and that is unacceptable."
Padilla was arguing for a bill he authored to make it a misdemeanor to smuggle cell phones into a California prison. Anyone convicted would get six months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine, per phone. Padilla’s bill would also add extra time to the sentences of inmates found with contraband phones – but reducing good time credits.
But that’s why the Senate Appropriations Committee shelved the measure. The Department of Finance estimates the longer sentences could cost up to $50,000 more per year, per inmate.
According to Gulf News, security forces stormed Roumieh Prison in Beirut on Tuesday where three prison guards were being detained by inmates who have been rioting since the weekend demanding an amnesty and better conditions.
The power supply to the prison had been cut off to prevent inmates from recharging cell phones introduced illegally.
A proposed law against taking cellphones into California prisons passed a key vote Tuesday, but the measure would exempt prison employees — considered a main source of phones used to arrange crimes from behind bars — from screening by metal detectors as they go to work.
Requiring prison guards to stand in line for airport-like security checks would cost the state millions, according to legislative analysts. That is because members of the politically powerful corrections officers union are paid for "walk time" — the minutes it takes to get from their cars, or the front gate, to their posts inside the prisons.
The threat of jail time might be a better deterrent.
There are efforts to subject the guards to searches or metal detectors - but because the state pays for guards to walk from the front gate to their stations, legislative analysts estimate that searches could cost $1.3 million annually. When Jerry Brown renegotiates the prison guard union contract, that provision has to change.
If the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation does it right, a better solution may lie in a technological system that blocks unauthorized cell phone signals. The program has worked well in Mississippi, and officials are going to test it here. The key? Finding a way to fund the system without breaking the state budget.
Prison officials in Colombia say they caught an 11-year-old girl visiting a jailed relative with 74 mobile phones and a revolver taped to her back. The guards became suspicious when they saw what they described as irregular shapes underneath the girl's jumper.
For the second time, Charles Manson has been found with a cell phone in prison, according MSNBC. An investigation is under way to determine how the cell phone was smuggled into the prison and into Manson's cell.
In December, the infamous convicted murderer had a LG flip phone hidden under his mattress, which was found by prison officials.
Manson used the phone to make calls and send text messages to people in California, New Jersey, Florida and British Columbia, Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections, told the Los Angeles Times in December.
Many of the phones are simply tossed over prison walls, and the phone bills are paid for by families.
"Almost everybody has a phone," said Mike, 33, an inmate at Smith State Prison in Georgia who, like other prisoners interviewed for the NY Times, asked that his full name not be used for fear of retaliation. "Almost every phone is a smartphone. Almost everybody with a smartphone has a Facebook."
The real crime is the inflated cost of calls, which force concerned prisoners to opt for illicit forms of communication:
"The real cost of a call is pennies, but prisons make a huge profit from inmate phones. Most inmates can't afford to stay in touch with family. That is the root cause of the cell phone problem in prisons."
The New York Times on how echnology is changing life inside prisons across the country at the same rapid-fire pace it is changing life outside. A smartphone hidden under a mattress is the modern-day file inside a cake.
Although prison officials have long battled illegal cellphones, smartphones have changed the game. With Internet access, a prisoner can call up phone directories, maps and photographs for criminal purposes, corrections officials and prison security experts say. Gang violence and drug trafficking, they say, are increasingly being orchestrated online, allowing inmates to keep up criminal behavior even as they serve time.
The Georgia prison strike, for instance, was about things prisoners often complain about: They are not paid for their labor. Visitation rules are too strict. Meals are bad.
But the technology they used to voice their concerns was new.
Inmates punched in text messages and assembled e-mail lists to coordinate simultaneous protests, including work stoppages, with inmates at other prisons. Under pseudonyms, they shared hour-by-hour updates with followers on Facebook and Twitter.
They communicated with their advocates, conducted news media interviews and monitored coverage of the strike.
In a protest apparently assembled largely through a network of banned cellphones, inmates across at least six prisons in Georgia have been on strike since Thursday, calling for better conditions and compensation, several inmates and an outside advocate said. The New York Times reports.
... Several inmates, who used cellphones to call The Times from their cells, said they found out about the protest from text messages and did not know whether specific individuals were behind it.
Inmates reaching out to the press by smuggled cell phones, definitely a new trend. Just last week, a British prisoner was able to not only get hold of a mobile phone and use it to video other crimes taking place, but was also able to then pass them to a journalist working for the Sky News TV channel. cf Prisoner uses mobile to video security lapses and boredoom inside jail.