Archives for the category: Inmates and Cell Phones

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January 3, 2011

Outlawed, Cellphones Are Thriving 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.

quotemarksright.jpgAlthough 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.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article. Image from Black Agenda Report.

emily | 9:49 AM | permalink

December 17, 2010

Nevada Prisons Seek Approval To Trace Inmate Cell Phones

Just recently, Charles Manson was caught with a cell phone under his mattres, which he used to call unidentified people in 4 different States. Now Nevada's Corrections Department will try and get legislation passed next year to allow state prisons to trace calls on cell phones that have been smuggled into jail.

[The Las Vegas Sun via The crime Report]

emily | 4:38 PM | permalink

December 12, 2010

Prisoners Coordinate Strike in Georgia thanks to cell phones.

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.

quotemarksright.jpg... 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.quotesmarksleft.jpg

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.

emily | 10:11 AM | permalink

December 7, 2010

Prisoner Uses Mobile Phone to Video Security Lapses Inside Jail

We've heard a lot about prisoners getting hold of cell phones and what they do with them, but this story takes the cake. 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. [via Cellular News]

quotemarksright.jpgThe phone was allegedly purchased from a corrupt prison official at Bullingdon prison in Oxfordshire by prisoner Michael Long who then used it over several weeks to make clandestine video recordings of activities in the prison.

The videos showed poor prison security, the ease with which illegal drugs were conveyed into the jail and a lack of training and rehabilitation for the prisoners before their release.

Long told Sky News that he hoped to raise awareness about the lack of rehabilitation facilities for offenders in Bullingdon, saying: "Where's the rehabilitation? There's no training courses in this prison. I've been here a year, and all I've done is lie in bed."quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 7:01 PM | permalink

December 4, 2010

Convicted Murderer Posts Pics from Prison on Facebook

Justin Walker (PICTURES): Convicted Murderer Posts Pics from Prison on Facebook.jpeg Following the news of Charles Manson - one of America's notorious killers - having used a cell phone from prison to call random people, now a convicted murderer locked up for killing an Oklahoma sheriff was caught posting pictures to his Facebook page from inside his prison cell using a smuggled-in cell phone.

Inmate Justin Walker apparently used his blackberry to upload the photos onto Facebook.

[via CBS News]

emily | 3:14 PM | permalink

December 3, 2010

Charles Manson Caught with a cell phone in jail

According to the Los Angeles Times, Charles Manson, orchestrator of one of the most notorious killing rampages in U.S. history - and convicted of committing the 1969 Los Angeles Tate-LaBianca murders - was caught with a cell phone under his prison mattress last year, which he used to call unidentified people in California, New Jersey, Florida and British Columbia.

quotemarksright.jpgAsked whether Manson had used the device to direct anyone to commit a crime or to leave a threatening message, Thornton said, "I don't know, but it's troubling that he had a cellphone since he's a person who got other people to murder on his behalf."quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 3:31 PM | permalink

November 19, 2010

Deaf inmates Allowed to use Videophones in Virginia Prison

alcatraz-prison-picture-3.jpegFollowing a lawsuit for discrimination by deaf and hard of hearing inmates at Powhatan Correctional Center in Virginia, the prison will become the first major institution in the country to install a videophone so that hearing impaired inmates can communicate with family and friends.

[via The Washington Post]

emily | 8:57 AM | permalink

October 29, 2010

Inmate calls Chronicle from prison to find out about new cell phone jamming legislation

A cell phone smuggled in a body.jpeg The San Francisco Chronicle received a call yesterday from a man who was concerned about efforts to jam cell phones in prisons.

He had every reason to be concerned, he was an inmate calling the Chronicle from prison.

quotemarksright.jpgThe called who said he acquired his phone six months ago -- provided some insider knowledge: The devices go for $800 to $1,200 on the black market, he said, with higher prices for smart phones. Maybe 5 percent of his fellow prisoners have them.

Though prison officials say phones are often smuggled inside in packages, our guy said, "It's mostly the guards, man. You know what's up."

How often does our inmate tipster talk on the phone?

"All day long, man, as long as I can."

Who does he talk to?

"Everybody -- girls mostly. I'm not a gang member, I don't do no gang s--- or drugs. Just family and girls."

We told him there hadn't been any big changes in the jamming effort. The federal legislation, introduced in January 2009, has been stuck in a House subcommittee since March of that year.

Good, he said.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:22 AM | permalink

September 23, 2010

NC Guards find cell phone inside NC inmate's rectum

There's really nothing to add.

[via Cellular News]

emily | 9:42 AM | permalink

September 3, 2010

Bow and arrow used to send phones into Brazil jail

After training carrier pigeons to carry cell phones in pouches on their backs, Brazilian mobsters taught a 17 year old boy how to use a bow and arrow to smuggle cell phones into a prison in southern Brazil. He was caught because one of the arrows struck a guard in the back.

According to the AP, the teen was able to shoot at least four cell phones into the prison before he was caught late Wednesday.

emily | 8:03 AM | permalink

September 2, 2010

Gang leaders orchestrated crimes from prison using cell phones

A coalition of law enforcement agencies has arrested four Nuestra Familia gang leaders and 30 gang members. Several of those caught were allegedly given orders to commit murder and other violent crimes by imprisoned gang leaders who were serving time in Pelican Bay State prison, which is near the Oregon border. The imprisoned leaders of Nuestra Familia sent them encrypted messages via cell phones.

[via The San Francisco Chronicle]

emily | 8:17 AM | permalink

August 31, 2010

Wolfhound handset sniffs out inmates' cellphones

Bloodhound.jpg As cellphone jamming is, for the most part, still out of the question in US prisons, Berkeley Varitronics has introduced a handset called the Wolfhound that hones in on cell phone signals.

[Watch video demo on YouTube. via engadget]


-- Wolfhound 'Sniffs Out' Ten Contraband Cell Phones in Less Than 30 Minutes in Thai Prison

-- Cell phone detector dogs - The first dog to sniff cell phones was called Murphy, he was a 20 month-old English Springer Spaniel in 2006 who had been trained in prisons across the East of England.

emily | 9:58 AM | permalink

August 23, 2010

Mafia using football show to send text messages to jailed bosses

According to The Telegraph, Italian gangsters are using a football TV show’s text ticker to send coded messages to their jailed bosses.

quotemarksright.jpg The Italian program allows football fans to send SMS text messages which then run along a ticker tape at the bottom of the screen when the show is being broadcast.

Anti-mafia prosecutors believe that members of organised crime gangs have caught onto the interactive feature, sending seemingly innocuous comments and remarks which in fact contain important messages for imprisoned mafia godfathers, many of whom continue to run their criminal empires despite being behind bars.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article

emily | 7:57 AM | permalink

August 11, 2010

President Obama signs into law ban on cell phones in federal prisons

abc_prison_cell_090719_mn.jpeg Hoping to stop federal inmates from directing crimes from behind bars, President Barack Obama signed into law Tuesday a prohibition on cell phone use by prisoners. CNN reports.

quotemarksright.jpg The law prohibits the use or possession of mobile phones and wireless devices, and calls for up to a year in prison for anyone found guilty of trying to smuggle one to an inmate.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons confiscated more than 2,600 cell phones from minimum security facilities and nearly 600 from secure federal institutions last year.

... Cell phones are prized among inmates, officials said. A government report said California prison inmates pay $500 to $1,000 per cell phone.

The new law calls for a government study to be issued in a year to measure the effectiveness of the new prohibition.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article. Image from ABCNews.


-- Smuggling cellphones to inmates now a misdemeanor in California

-- Congress moves to crack down on prison cell phones

-- California mulls criminalizing cell phones in prison

emily | 7:38 AM | permalink

August 10, 2010

Smuggling cell phones to inmates now a misdemeanor in Calif

The California State Senate on Monday unanimously passed SB525, which would make it a misdemeanor to deliver a cell phone or other wireless communication device to an inmate. It also would criminalize possessing such a device with the intention of giving it to a prisoner. Violators face fines of up to $5,000.

[via Silicon Valley Mercury News]


-- Congress moves to crack down on prison cell phones

-- California mulls criminalizing cell phones in prison

emily | 8:14 AM | permalink

July 21, 2010

Congress moves to crack down on prison cell phones

Congress moved Tuesday to make it tougher for federal prison inmates to use cell phones and wireless devices to direct criminal activities within or outside prison walls, reports Cellular News.

quotemarksright.jpg The House voted by voice to close a loophole in federal law by banning the use or possession of cell phones or wireless devices in federal prisons and classifying those devices as contraband.

Currently, cell phones and wireless devices are not specifically defined as contraband, and inmates and guards caught smuggling the devices into prisons are rarely punished.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:40 AM | permalink

July 13, 2010

Prison guard gets 3 years in cell phone smuggling

You read about cell phones smuggled to inmates via bribed wardens, but here's a case reported by The Boston Herald where a prison guard was actually caught and sentenced.

quotemarksright.jpg A corrections officer at East Jersey State Prison who admitted smuggling two cell phones to an inmate who is a member of the Latin Kings street gang has been sentenced to three years in prison.

The man was arrested in August 2009 after investigators found that he obtained the cell phones from associates of the Latin Kings and smuggled them into the prison in Woodbridge in exchange for cash payments.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 3:43 PM | permalink

May 15, 2010

CTIA Statement on How to Prevent Contraband Cell Phones in Prisons

Seized mobile phones.jpeg

Below is a statement issued May 12, 2010 by the CTIA.

quotemarksright.jpg CTIA-The Wireless Association® President and CEO Steve Largent issued the following statement in response to the Notice of Inquiry (NOI) issued by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Association (NTIA) on how to prevent contraband cell phones in prisons:

“CTIA and the wireless industry will be focused on educating the NTIA, the FCC, the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the National Institute of Justice on why they should support non-interfering technologies such as cell detection and managed access to solve the problem of contraband phones in correctional institutions.

These are preferred and superior solutions as they are lawful, currently available and would not cause interference for legal consumers or public safety officials. In fact, these non-interfering technologies were successfully demonstrated in 2009 at a Maryland prison where numerous states’ corrections officials were able to observe them in the field.

“We hope that as these organizations focus on this important issue, they join us in supporting stronger punishments for prisoners who are found with a contraband device – and those who supply them.” quotesmarksleft.jpg

Photo above by Corbis, published on the Daily Mail. The 1,800 mobile phones confiscated since 2006 at the state prison in Vacaville, California.

emily | 1:50 PM | permalink

May 9, 2010

Inmates and cell phones


The Daily Mail on how smuggled mobile phones are used by prisoners to commit crimes from their cells.

quotemarksright.jpg ... Prisoners would rather have their own or a shared mobile phone. The reasons are apparent. Mobile phones can receive calls as well as making them, they cost less per call, they can be used at any time, they can take photographs and do other clever things. Prisoners also like mobile phones because they are not routinely monitored and so can be used for criminal purposes and in particular for drug trafficking.' quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 3:20 PM | permalink

March 22, 2010

UK and Wales' Prison wardens confiscate one cell phone every hour

Prisons fighting a war on illegal mobile phones are confiscating one an hour, according to The Mirror.

quotemarksright.jpgThe number of handsets and SIM cards found in jails in England and Wales increased by 8% over the past 12 months to 8,786.

Convicts can use handsets to fix drug deals, issue threats, put messages on web pages and promote extremism.

Earlier this year 30 Facebook pages set up by prisoners were taken down. They had been updated from behind bars.

Records showed eight prisons where more than 100 mobiles were seized last year.

The worst was Altcourse, Liverpool, where 278 phones and 302 SIMS were confiscated.quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 11:16 AM | permalink

March 20, 2010

Cell phones smuggled over the air in Scottish Jail with a crossbow


We've heard of cell phones smuggled into jails in the most imaginative ways; they have been found hidden in mens' undwear, stuffed inside a toad or a dead squirrel, in mayonnaise jars, in compost piles, a prisoner's bowels, the soles of their shoes, inside hollowed-out blocks of cheese, or alarmingly and more commonly, through a corrupt correctional officer.

But flying through the air from the outside on a crossbow is a new one.

According to UK's Daily Record:

quotemarksright.jpgAccomplices on the outside are helping the prisoners get their booty past security.

They attach fishing line to crossbow bolts and fire them over the prison wall and into cell windows.

Prisoners then reel in the line to get the contraband - including drugs, weapons and mobile phones - which is attached to the other end.quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 10:15 AM | permalink

February 17, 2010

Feds to Test Cell Phone Jamming in Prisons

Corrections officers will begin testing signal-jamming equipment in a Maryland prison later this week, as officials try to show Congress that the technology can thwart inmates from using forbidden handsets to commit crimes. Mobiledia reports.

quotemarksright.jpgRegulators hope the test, to be held at the Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, will show that cell phone jammers can be used without interfering with emergency response signals and legitimate use near prisons, a concern of the Federal Communication Commission.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 3:16 PM | permalink

February 2, 2010

Australia. Ban on mobile phone jammers may be lifted for prisons

Mobile phone jammers will be allowed to operate in prisons if the communications regulator approves an exemption to a decade-old ban on the call-blocking devices, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

quotemarksright.jpg... Previously jammers had been allowed for some uses by the defence force and the federal police.

Submissions to the review are open until the end of April. quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 8:26 AM | permalink

January 27, 2010

Photo from death row using a smuggled cell phone

According to, a condemned San Antonio law enforcement killer sent a photo of himself out of Texas' death row two years ago using a smuggled cell phones.

quotemarksright.jpgThe case confirms what prison officials have long suspected, that convicts — even those on death row, which is supposed to be the most secure part of Texas' massive prison system — have had Internet access with smuggled cell phones.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.


-- Another death row inmate caught with cell phone

-- Death Row inmate makes threatening call to Senator

emily | 9:38 PM | permalink

December 30, 2009

Terror concerns over mobile phones in prison

A scary article from The Telegraph, linking mobile phones in prison to terrorist activity.

quotemarksright.jpgMobile phones smuggled into British prisons could be used by Islamist militants to spread their extremist ideology and threaten national security, Conservatives claimed.quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 3:35 PM | permalink

October 13, 2009

Convicts Still Calling From Texas Prisons

According to NBC, one year after Texas prison operators promised to get mobile phones out of the hands of inmates, records show mobile phones are still getting into convicts hands.

A state report shows that authorities confiscated 995 cell phones between January and August, a rate that will top last year's 1,226 seizures if it continues, according to the Austin-American Statesman.

During the statewide lockdown a year ago, 22 cell phones were found on death row. During the latest search, none turned up, officials said.

emily | 1:33 PM | permalink

October 6, 2009

Prison Cell Phone Jamming Bill Passed In Senate

The Senate on Monday passed the Safe Prisons Communications Act of 2009 (S.251), which allows states to petition the Federal Communications Commission for the authority to "jam" - or block the use of cell phones from prison.

Under current law, the FCC does not allow cell phone jamming of any kind.

The bill will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.

[via WBAL Radio]

emily | 8:02 AM | permalink

October 3, 2009

4,130 cell phones confiscated in US prisons in 2009

Inmates and cell phones, an ongoing problem. According to The Los Angeles Times, prison officials confiscated 4,130 this year, more than in the previous three years combined.

emily | 10:40 AM | permalink

September 4, 2009

Maryland officials test cell phone detection at prison

Officials from five states observed tests on cell phone detection technology at a closed Maryland prison on Thursday, as states are taking a greater interest in finding ways to halt violence orchestrated by inmates behind prison walls. Cellular News reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe technology tested Thursday is designed to enable corrections officials to locate and root out contraband cell phones. It differs from cell phone jamming devices that would block signals and render cell phones useless in prison. Federal law now prohibits states from using the jamming devices, and legislation in Congress would change the law to allow states to use them.quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 9:49 AM | permalink

August 19, 2009

Convicted drug dealer used cell phone to mastermind cocaine conspiracy

A convicted drug dealer who ran an international cocaine ring from a Yorkshire jail cell using a smuggled mobile phone to organise deliveries from central America has been jailed for 18 years. The Yorkshire Post reports.

quotemarksright.jpgGeorge Moon made phone calls to a contact in Panama using the contraband phone and two sim cards, and organised an operation which saw £300,000 worth of drugs imported into the UK.

His actions "beggared belief", said Judge Bryn Holloway at Doncaster Crown Court, adding that the 62-year-old had led a "sophiscated and well-organised conspiracy" from behind bars at Lindholme Prison near Doncaster.

... The case comes after the Yorkshire Post revealed more than 4,000 mobile phones were seized in jails in England and Wales last year, prompting MPs to describe the situation as "grotesque".

Another recent case involved Nigel Ramsey, 23, who orchestrated the gangland killing of 17-year-old Tarek Chaiboub in Sheffield, using a mobile phone in his cell at Wolds Prison, near Hull.quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 10:08 AM | permalink

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