Archives for the category: Inmates and Cell Phones
May 20, 2009
A new study of New Jersey’s prison system suggests that street gang members who are behind bars are able to do much of what they did on the street, in part by using new technologies, mostly cell phones. KYW Newsradio reports.
The State Commission of Investigation has traditionally probed organized crime. These days, their main concern is gangs like the “Bloods,” and Commission chair Cary Edwards says this 36-page report suggests their sphere of influence behind bars is "frightening."
Related links to article on inmates and cell phones.
May 14, 2009
According to the Palestine Herald-Press, Derrick Ross, 38, a Coffield Unit inmate was sentenced to (a shocking) 60 years in prison Tuesday after an Anderson County (Texas) jury found him guilty of possessing a cell phone in a correctional facility.
... Because Ross was found to be a habitual offender (on three different occasions he stole cars), the range of punishment for having a cell phone in a correctional facility was 25 years to 99 years or life. Normally the range of punishment would be 2 to 10 years.
Shame on the jury.
April 15, 2009
According to News.com, one California state senator is trying to crack down on inmates using cell phones while serving time.
Prison inmates in California aren't really permitted to have cell phones. They have to forfeit their devices before being locked up. But that hasn't stopped thousands of phones from being smuggled into prisons each year. In fact, officials say that the number of cell phones confiscated in California prisons has doubled in the last year from 1,400 devices in 2007 to about 2,800 in 2008. And the problem appears to be getting worse this year.
March 30, 2009
A former prisoner is suing the UK prison service for compensation after a contraband mobile phone was confiscated and destroyed, reports Cellular News. The UK forbids prisoners from having mobile phones, and a search following a visit from his girlfriend found a mobile phone in the cell occupied by Mark Coleman. The phone was taken away and destroyed - while Coleman was given prison punishments.
However, in a legal action, Coleman is claiming that the prison authorities were wrong to destroy the phone and should have kept it in storage until he was released. Lawyers are claiming that in destroying the phone, the prison service had unlawfully deprived him of his property.
January 27, 2009
Tecore Networks says that it has deployed its Intelligent Network Access Controller (IntelliNAC) to address the growing problem of illegal cell phone use by prison inmates in an unnamed U.S. locality.
While restricting the localized use of unknown cellular devices within the IntelliNAC coverage area, approved prison personnel remain able to access the commercial cellular network service within the prison grounds as well as external to the prison through their existing cellular subscriptions.
[via Cellular News]
November 26, 2008
A thorough article from TIME on inmates and cell phones around the world. Most of what is written has been posted over the years in this blog, but this is a great round-up in one place.
Cell-phone access can mean chaos. Brazilian officials say cell phones are used to organize and plan widespread riots that are endemic to their crowded prisons; Canadian prosecutors said a notorious drug kingpin continued business behind bars using his cell phone; and a man awaiting trial on a homicide charge in Maryland has been accused of arranging via cell phone the murder of a key witness in the case. The examples go on and on, some bordering on the absurd. The mother of a prisoner in Texas even called authorities to complain about her son's bad cell-phone reception in jail.
November 25, 2008
Although rumors persist of their use in restaurants and movie theaters, the use of cell phone jamming equipment remains illegal in the US. Right now, the only permissible use is by federal law enforcement officials, but that may change if state prison officials in South Carolina and a manufacturer of jamming equipment have their way. Both would like to see state law enforcement get permission to use the jammers, which may push the technology a bit closer to the mainstream.
[via ars technica]
November 15, 2008
In the second seizure this week since a systemwide lockdown and search for contraband ended, Texas Department of Criminal Justice officers have found a phone inside the body of condemned inmate Hank Skinner, reports The Houston Chronicle.
Two cell phone SIM cards were found hidden in Skinner's Bible during a routine search Friday afternoon of his cell at the Polunsky Unit near Livingston and the cell phone was found hidden in his rectum after conducting an X-ray in the infirmary, said department spokeswoman Michelle Lyons.
October 22, 2008
Poor surveillance, inadequate staffing and underpaid, easily corrupted corrections guards have allowed Texas prison inmates to easily obtain phones and other contraband, criminal justice officials acknowledged Tuesday, the day after three cellphones were recovered from death row. The Dallas Morning News reports.
One of these phones logged 2,800 calls over the last month and was used by a convicted murderer to make threatening calls to state Sen. John Whitmire.
-- Cell phone smuggling is a big problem in Texas prisons (April 2006)
October 21, 2008
Gov. Rick Perry of Texas ordered a systemwide search of the nation's second-largest prison system for contraband, following a convicted killer's threatening calls to a state senator made from a cell phone smuggled to him on death row - by his mother.
[via the The Houston Chronicle]
September 1, 2008
Pakistan's Prisons Department has carried out a series of sweeps of prisoners at Camp Jail using metal detectors and seized 30 mobile phones which had been hidden in their rectums. Seven of the prisoners had to have medical intervention to remove the phones.
"... The phenomena of prisoners and prison visitors concealing phones and other forbidden items inside their body is fairly commonplace. Hiding phones inside the body is not without its dangers though - and last June, a UK prisoner was admitted to hospital after he hid a mobile phone inside his body and was unable to expel it later. He had to have over 200 internal stitches and the doctors had to remove part of his bladder."
[via Cellular News]
July 23, 2008
The chaplain of Mountjoy Jail in Dublin was used unwittingly yesterday in an attempt to smuggle a mobile phone into the jail -- in a birthday cake. The Belfast Telegraph reports.
"... Since x-ray machines were introduced, the smuggling of drugs and mobile phones into Mountjoy through visitors has ceased and the price of purchasing a phone in the jail has jumped dramatically.
Officials said this incident showed prisoners were becoming desperate to find other ways to bring in the contraband.
"This is a classic case," one official said last night. "It's like a plot out of an old English film, made in Pinewood studios. But in this case, heavenly intervention was on our side."
It is a criminal offence to smuggle a mobile phone into a jail, carrying a maximum sentence of five years in prison. "
July 15, 2008
Maryland has three trained dogs that can sniff out phones smuggled into prisons, reports The Washington Post.
Each cell phone has a unique scent signature, according to an officer in a video showing the dogs at work, it's the same thing that makes it possible for a blood hound to track one person.
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.
June 25, 2008
A sharp increase in drugs and cellphones found inside a Brazilian prison mystified officials -- until guards spotted some distressed pigeons struggling to stay airborne, writes Reuters.
"Inmates at the prison in Marilia, Sao Paulo state had been training carrier pigeons to smuggle in goods using cell phone sized pouches on their backs, a low-tech but ingenious way of skipping the high-tech security that visitors faced.
... Officials said the pigeons, bred and trained inside the prison, lived on the jail's roof, where prisoners would take their deliveries before smuggling the birds out again through friends and family."
June 24, 2008
UK consumer groups have lodged an official complaint over the high charges prisoners are paying to make phone calls, reports Ananova.
"The "super complaint" to regulator Ofcom says a 30-minute phone call from a prison to a landline costs more than seven times the amount of a call from a public payphone.
Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "Prisoners staying in touch with their families is known to reduce the risk, both of reoffending on release and of suicide and self-harm in prison, so it is in everyone's interest to enable people to phone home."
June 15, 2008
Senior Prisons Department officials explained to Pakistan's Daily Time the many ways cell phones were smuggled into jails:
Soap: Many visitors use bars of soap to smuggle small cellphones or drugs.
Homemade food: jail authorities sympathised with prisoners because they could not eat homemade meals, they never checked closely the food that the prisoners’ visitors brought.
Shoes Visitors smuggle in cellphone hiding them in their shoes.
Body cavities: You figure that one out or click here.
Another innovative carrier was reported from a Thai Prison, where a cell phone was smuggled in a dead toad which was thrown against a wall to retrieve it.
But probably the most alarming way for an inmate to obtain a cellphone is bribing a warden to provide one.
December 26, 2007
"Junkie Blake Fielder-Civil, 25, is hiding a mobile in his cell while on remand for alleged trial rigging.
Sources claim he has been using it to call and text troubled singer Amy, 24, and music industry associates.
... Fielder-Civil is awaiting trial, with another man, for assaulting barman James King in Hoxton, North London, and then offering him £200,000 ($396.000) to change his story."
December 22, 2007
The Government is to consider installing electronic body scanners which can detect mobile phones and metal weapons hidden inside people’s bodies into every jail in England and Wales. Times Online reports.
"David Hanson, the Prisons Minister, said today that putting the £6,500 ($12.900) scanner in every jail would help to counter the growing number of mobile phones being smuggled into prisons.
The body orifice security scanner (Boss) is a mobile chair with three sensitive sensors which can detect metal items as small as a pin or paper clip when they are hidden on or inside an individual.
A prisoner sits on the chair and the machine issues a red alert when an object is found within or around the body. Mobile phones are frequently smuggled into jails in body orifices.
... Mr Hanson said that the Boss chair offered a better way of dealing with mobile phones than trying to instal a jamming system as this would also effect the use of mobile phones in nearby houses and on roads in the vicinity."
December 5, 2007
According to the National Post, the warden of Afghanistan's most notorious prison is cracking down on a dangerous new weapon falling into the hands of inmates: the cellular phone.
Several inmates with political or criminal connections are obtaining cellphones illegally to co-ordinate protests, attacks, or even robberies from inside Pul-e-Charkhi, the prison's recently appointed warden, Cmdr. Haji Dolath, 50, said.
Located on the outskirts of Kabul, off an isolated stretch of dirt road, Pul-e-Charkhi has about 3,000 prisoners who come from all over the country. About half of the prisoners are Taliban, or leaders of criminal gangs.
"As it is the central jail of Afghanistan, prisoners from all parts of the country -- the most dangerous people -- are brought here," Cmdr. Dolath told CanWest News Service in an interview at his office this week. "With the phones they can guide other Taliban members on the outside, and the outside members can give them guidance.
... Controlling the influx of cellphones into the prison is difficult because inmates -- or their families -- are bribing guards to bring them in, Dolath said. One guard described how prisoners were willing to pay as much as five times the price of a $40 phone.
It's a fortune for Afghan prison guards who earn about $50 a month, Cmdr. Dolath said.
... The cellphones are also a major problem inside the prison, as inmates in Pul-e-Charkhi's seven blocks -- one of which is for 90 female prisoners -- can use them to communicate with each other and rally their political contacts. When authorities tried to implement a prison uniform, inmates used their phones to lobby certain Afghan MPs, said deputy minister of justice Mr. Hashimzai.
Uniforms were never introduced."
December 3, 2007
Inmates in the biggest jail in Britain are ordering drugs, continuing to run criminal activities and plotting escapes using mobile phones that are smuggled into the building, according to a watchdog report, writes the Times Online.
"The “apparently limitless” supply of mobile phones in Wandsworth prison is increasing the supply of drugs on the wings as well as “fuelling a whole group of new users”, the report said. Almost 250 mobile phones were found inside Wandsworth, in southwest London, in the first five months of this year, the report from the prison’s Independent Monitoring Board disclosed."
... The report, which covers 2006-07, said. “Mobile phones are used to facilitate the delivery of drugs to prisoners, continue criminal activities from within, pressurize vulnerable prisoners, contact families of prisoners and staff, plan escapes, bullying, intimidation and a host of other unsavoury activities.
The report said that it was only a matter of time before a “very serious incident” took place because of mobile phone use".
October 22, 2007
A former prisoner who went on Irish radio last summer using a mobile phone from his prison cell has been shot dead in Dublin. The BBC reports.
"In May, Daly came to prominence when he called a radio show using a mobile phone from his cell in Portlaoise jail.
The armed robber's comments on one of RTE Radio's most popular shows - Liveline - in connection with an alleged gangland feud prompted a national furore.
... Daly had to be placed under protection after his call prompted a massive search of jails, uncovering a large haul of contraband including mobile phones, plasma televisions and pet budgies. "
October 2, 2007
According to The Belfast Telegraph, more than 1,600 mobile phones have reportedly been seized from prisoners across Ireland over the past year.
"Reports this morning say more than 550 have been taken from inmates at Mountjoy Prison alone."
Inmates smulgging in cell phone stories are common, but this part of the article is more unusual: The crackdown was mounted following the controversy sparked when one inmate rang the Irish radio Joe Duffy show from his cell in Portlaoise earlier this year."
August 18, 2007
"They are the first to be sentenced for this offence, which was brought in under the Prisons Act 2007 this year.
The legislation was brought in on May 1st, making the possession or use of a phone by inmates a criminal offence."
July 31, 2007
A fun story from the Birhmingham Mail, about inmates using smuggled cell phones at a minimum security facility - not to organize crime on the outside - but to order take out! The prison smells delicious.
"The orders are massive - because the prisoners have got money, every dormitory smells delicious and that just winds up the other prisoners to order food for themselves.
A spokesman for the Prison Service said "prisoners are not permitted to order a takeaway and will be disciplined if they are found doing so."
June 30, 2007
Lieutenant Tim Wamble describes a worst-case scenario for the California Prison system: If prisoners had cell phones "they could organize simultaneous riots in all 33 institutions if they wanted to." cbs13.com reports.
"Apparently they're not having too much trouble getting their hands on them. About 1,000 cell phones have been confiscated at the state's prisons in the past 12 months. Most cell phones apparently come from visitors, but how they get through the metal detector is a mystery.
... "While one obvious advantage of having a cell phone on the inside is being able to make calls yourself, there's another advantage. You could take a cell phone and rent it out to another inmate, for $20 dollars for five minutes.
Holding up a cell phone, Lt. Robin Bond says: "This is getting more lucrative than selling drugs. You can make more and it's not a felony."
Beyond being a money maker, the modern cell phone also poses a major security risk.
"If there were to be some type of escape plot, it could all be done via the internet, via instant messages," Bond said.
Making telephone calls from prison is considered a privilege. Inmates get about 15 minutes of collect calls every three days. All official calls are monitored or recorded. Cell phones are not."
June 5, 2007
Prisoners are facing a crackdown on the use of mobile phones, reports 2GB.
"Existing laws covering ownership or possession of a mobile in a jail will now be extended to use - with a two year maximum penalty.
Attorney-General John Hatzistergos says mobile phone use by prisoners can be a serious security risk.
“Mobile phones have been used in the past to intimidate Crown witnesses, to threaten correctional officers and overseas we’ve seen instances where mobile phones have been used to secure escapes and even detonate bombs,” Mr Hatzistergos said.
May 2, 2007
According to the The Irish Times, Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has ordered an inquiry after a convicted armed robber phoned a radio programme on a mobile phone from his prison cell.
"John Daly from Finglas, who is serving a nine-year sentence in the maximum security Portlaoise Prison, phoned RTÉ's LiveLine programme this morning.
Fine Gael Justice Spokesman Jim O'Keeffe it the incident was "absurd" and was "highly embarrassing" for Mr McDowell.
It is believed Daly has been moved to Cork Prison and has had a mobile phone confiscated."
February 8, 2007
Wardens seized nine phones from nine Muslim militants convicted in the 2002 Bali bombings, reports The Associated Press, amid concerns imprisoned Indonesian terrorists are contacting sympathizers outside.
"Police this week said a man on death row at a Bali prison for his role in the blasts gave religious instruction via cell phone to militants accused of attacking Christians on Sulawesi island.
Security at Indonesian prisons is notoriously lax. Inmates reportedly are free to buy and consume drugs, use phones and can even arrange for prostitutes to visit.
Last year, police said another militant on death row in the Bali attacks used a laptop computer and a wireless device to chat with fellow militants online."
January 2, 2007
Mexico's fastest growing crime racket is being run out of the big house, reports Chron.com.
All an inmate needs is a cell phone — smuggled in with a reported $5,000 bribe to guards — and a list of potential victims. The criminals call at random, and the message rarely varies: "Hello, we've kidnapped your son. Pay up, or you will never see him again."
In a country ranked among the top kidnapping havens in the world, such threats are chillingly effective and skyrocketing — from eight reported telephone extortions in 2001 to 3,753 in 2005 — according to the Federal Investigative Agency. The agency, Mexico's equivalent of the FBI, had registered another 1,647 complaints nationwide by mid-September. Experts say the real number of extortions is probably 10 times as high, because most crimes go unreported in Mexico.
The Agency estimates that 80 percent of the calls are made from inside prisons, often by experienced kidnappers who continue to ply their trade from behind bars.
Ransoms range from $50 to tens of thousands of dollars, experts say. Victims pay either by depositing money in specified bank accounts or buying cell phone cards and providing the callers with the access codes. The callers then use those cards to continue the extortion.
Last year, telephone companies began putting messages on all calls made from public phones inside prisons, alerting recipients of their origin. Prison authorities have also tried blocking cell phone service in prisons. But those efforts have largely failed, partly because neighbors have complained about losing their own service, said criminal lawyer Oscar Tukumaga.
November 20, 2006
This sounds crazy as most jails around the world have a huge problem with inmates smuggling in cell phones and organizing crimes from the inside, but according to The Inquirer, a British prison will be providing their iinmates with the use of a mobile phone within their cells.
"The idea is justified on the grounds that prisoners normally have to queue for ages to use the public telephones. If they have their own phones they can call loved ones at times of need. They'll have to pay for the airtime, though."