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Thousands of cellphones confiscated in state prisons

Cellphone State prison officials have confiscated 4,130 contraband cellphones this year, more than all those seized in the previous three years combined, according to an internal report released today.

The findings sparked concern among legislators that the proliferation of cellphones in state lockups is a growing security problem.

More than 100 illegal phones were discovered at the California Institution for Men in Chino, including 10 in August, according to the report from Matthew Cate, head of the state prisons system. But he said there is no evidence that inmates used the devices during a riot that occurred there Aug. 8.

“Investigations conducted within California prisons have supported allegations [that] cellphones have been used by incarcerated felons to participate in criminal activity,” wrote Cate, secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Crimes committed by inmates using cellphones have included the planning of escapes, restraining order violations, use of stolen credit cards to purchase inmate quarterly packages and the coordination of smuggling contraband into prisons, Cate said. 

Two years ago, state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) proposed legislation that would have made it a crime for inmates to possess cellphones in prison. He also proposed subjecting all prison visitors and employees to more rigorous screening, including the use of metal detectors. His ideas were shelved because of the state’s budget problems.

“We knew this was a problem two years ago, and it seems to be growing exponentially worse,” Padilla said. 

In his report, Cate acknowledged that a test program that planned to use “airport-style screening” at prison entrances had been planned. But he said that “due to the current budget crisis, this pilot program has been placed on hold.”

—Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Troy, a cell phone sniffing dog, stands in a training room at Albert C. Wagner Youth Correctional Facility Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2009, in Bordentown, N.J., near a prison contraband bible with the pages cut to hide a cell phone. Earlier Tuesday Attorney General Anne Milgram announced that the dogs are one plan to stop the illicit use of cell phones in state prisons. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Comments () | Archives (10)

How about just having the CDC just use cell phone jammers. What is the big bad FCC going to do ... try to send in some pimply faced techo geek into a prison to find the source?

Looks like a hymnal, not a bible.

So how do dogs detect cellphones?

Good luck trying to eleminate the cell phones and other "contraband". A large majority of "contraband" smuggled into the prisons is brought in by CDCR employees. Co's are selling tobacco on the West yard at Chino: $150.00 for a can of "Bugler" tobacco.

Heres a link to a artacle writen by an inmate about cell phones in prison. He makes some good points. I dont think cell phone jammers can be used because it will mess up innocent peoples cell phones who live near where prisons are locatd.


There is a device that will block cell phone signals redering them useless through out the prison.

You know who's blocking this plan???!!!


The cell phone industry is blocking this easy answer to the cell phone problem. In the meantime, members of the Mexican Mafia continue to do business, calling shots from inside the prison.

Cell phone industry doesn't care that murders are being orderd or drug deals orchestrated....they care about their product and that they make tons of money on these prepaid, disposable cell phones used in prisons.

Overpaid prison guards can't detect smuggled contraband? Worthless losers!

Marvelous Marvin great article! It makes complete sense and not many see it that way.

It has been abuntantly obvious to the Justice System and to this Taxpaying citizen that criminal enterprises are still being run by criminals from prisons by cell phone use. These cash rich enterprises are a very lucrative to all that support it. Yes, even by all those on the inside not necessarily behind the bars. What happened here some body miss a payment?

If the politicians are really serious about this problem they would have cleared the way to put in metal detectors for employees. We know that's how the majority of cell phones get into prisons. The visitors are already have to pass through metal detectors so how could they possibly get them through?
On the other had employees especially guards pass through with large duffle bags they bring their work gear in. I seen them pass through driving their cars and the guards at the gate does not even check the car or the trunk. They wink and look the other way. The reason could be that to many of the guards are actually connected to inmates by way of family or friends. Most of the visitors are mothers, children and grandparents. Let's paint a more realistic picture of what is happening. There are metal detectors in place for the visitors who can only bring in their ID and a little money. Let's go after the real source of cell phones in prison. Guards can get good money to make up for overtime loss. With the political influence of the guard union at the capital and the corruption in the prison system it sounds as if the mafia runs the prisons and not the government. Where are the politicians that promised to clean up corruption at all levels? As voters we again have betrayed.


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