Gov. Jerry Brown signs measure outlawing prisoner cellphones
Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Thursday a measure making it a crime for prisoners to be caught with cellphones, saying he hoped to “break up an expanding criminal network” that uses the devices from behind bars.
Thousands of smuggled cellphones have been found in California's prisons in recent years, a growing problem highlighted when notorious inmate Charles Manson was found with an LG flip phone. It has previously not been a crime to have one behind bars.
Brown also signed an executive order Thursday to mobilize corrections officials to try to stop the inflow of phones and collect the phones already in prisoners' hands.
In signing the new legislation, authored by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), Brown said that "when criminals in prison get possession of a cellphone, it subverts the very purpose of incarceration."
"They use these phones to organize gang activity, intimidate witnesses and commit crimes," he said. "Today's action will help to break up an expanding criminal network and protect law-abiding Californians.”
-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento
Photo: Inmates watch television at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center, in Elk Grove, Calif. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press