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Taboo prison romances can lead to cellphone smuggling

Deuel Vacation Institution in Tracy

Taboo romances between prison employees and inmates is a common motive for smuggling cellphones behind bars, according to a report from the state's prison watchdog agency.

The report showed that 20 California prison employees suspected of smuggling cellphones to inmates have resigned or were fired in recent months, the agency said.

Although most of the prison employees were thought to have taken cash for the phones, others seemed to do it for love, or something like it.

One inmate caught with a phone had text messages and nude photos sent by a female guard, the report says. Another inmate was caught with love letters and a childhood photo from a guard accused of providing him the phone.

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And a female prison office worker was accused of smuggling a phone to an inmate who is suspected of fathering her child. When prosecutors reviewing the case for possible criminal charges requested a DNA sample from the clerk, she resigned instead, the report states.

The proliferation of cellphones in prisons is a significant public-safety concern, officials say. Inmates have run street gangs from behind bars, intimidated witnesses and orchestrated assaults on guards, they said.

Those who smuggled cellphones to prisoners for cash, not love, could have been paid up to $1,000 to get the phone behind bars.

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— Jack Dolan

Photo: Twenty employees of California prisons have resigned or been fired in recent months after allegedly smuggling cellphones into state prison facilities. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

 
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