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Cellphones Crime Government United States

US Prisons Have a Cellphone Smuggling Problem (nbcnews.com) 275

An anonymous reader quotes NBC: Cellphones smuggled into prisons -- enabling inmates to order murders, plan escapes, deal drugs and extort money -- have become a scourge in a bloc of states where corrections officers annually confiscate as many as one for every three inmates... In South Carolina, prison officers have found and taken one phone for every three inmates, the highest rate in the country. In Oklahoma, it's one phone for every six prisoners, the nation's second-highest rate... Cellphones are prized because they allow inmates to avoid privatized jailhouse phone and visitation services that charge up to $15 for a two-minute call home to friends and family. "Inmates call their mothers like most of us do on holidays," said Dr. John Shaffer, former executive deputy secretary for the Pennsylvania Corrections Department.

But for some, the phones serve a darker purpose. "Most of these guys are just chitchatting with their girlfriends, but some of these guys are stone-hardened criminals running criminal enterprises," said Kevin Tamez of the MPM group, a litigation consulting firm that specializes in prison security... Meth rings operated by prisoners with cellphones, some with ties to prison gangs like the Aryan Brotherhood, the Irish Mob Gang and the United Blood Nation, have been discovered in at least five Southern facilities. Phones have also played a role in breakouts, with one South Carolina inmate dialing up drone delivery of wire cutters and cash for his escape in July. Cellphones are so prevalent in the prison system, Tamez said, that "if you don't have them, you would look like a loser."

The article reports convicts have actually uploaded in-prison videos to Facebook Live and to Snapchat. "Georgia inmates used phones to take photos of themselves tying up or beating other prisoners, then texted the horrifying images to the victim's family and demanded cash."
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US Prisons Have a Cellphone Smuggling Problem

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  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Sunday October 01, 2017 @06:07AM (#55286887)
    as usual, management
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 01, 2017 @06:44AM (#55286947)

      More of the idiotic one line posts from this turkeydance moron. Why doesn't this clown get modded down? The real problem here is using prisons as a source of profit, one part of which is the excessive cost of making phone calls. Lower the costs and much of the problem will go away, since many of the prisoners using cell phones for benign purposes will lose the incentive to acquire them. If prisons aren't a source of profit, that also removes the incentive to send people there for longer sentences and crimes that really shouldn't result in prison time. As usual, turkeydance has it wrong with his worthless post. Sure, the hardened criminals may still smuggle in cell phones, but most of the problem will go away if prisons stop trying to be profitable and charging excessive prices for phone calls. It also decreases the potential that a cell phone gets smuggled in for a relatively benign purpose and then ends up in the hands of someone with more nefarious goals. Lower the prices of phone calls and mod down turkeydance. Problem solved.

      • More of the idiotic one line posts from this turkeydance moron. Why doesn't this clown get modded down?

        Mod down for what? Laziness? It's not off-topic, it's not redundant.

        • It’s actually very insightful, in the most insightful possible way: by describing the problem with only one word: “management”.
      • by johnnys ( 592333 )
        Yes and no. Dropping the price of telephone calls will reduce the incentive to smuggle cell phones for benign "calls to mom", but will do nothing to prevent the hardened criminals who want to run their criminal enterprises from inside using cellphones. All that's needed here is deployment of simple cell phone jammers. No cell service, no problems.
        • Dropping the landline call prices would be benevolent.

          Cell phone jammers are completely unnecessary and illegal even in this circumstance; cellphones can be detected readily using existing equipment, but no one wants to spend the small amount of money needed to find and confront those that have hidden them.

          Just like it's stupid-simple to find those that haven't turned off their phones on an airline flight, no one wants to spend the money and confront passengers because of security theater-- some passengers

          • by XXongo ( 3986865 ) on Sunday October 01, 2017 @10:00AM (#55287437) Homepage
            My sympathy is with the prisoners here.

            Prisons consider phone calls to be a money fountain. Basically, they are squeezing money out of prisoners trying to keep connections with family.

            Many many studies have shown that the single thing that is most important to reducing recidivism is that the prisoners have ties to family and community OUTSIDE of the people they meet in prison. So, basically, the main effect of high cost of phone calls home is to INCREASE crime.

            The whole bit about criminals running criminal enterprises with cell phones is mostly a distraction. The prisons want to delete cell phones purely because their monopoly on phoning home makes them tons of cash. If criminals were running criminal enterprises on cell phones, the solution would be a wiretap.

            from the article: Cellphones are prized because they allow inmates to avoid privatized jailhouse phone and visitation services that charge up to $15 for a two-minute call home to friends and family. "Inmates call their mothers like most of us do on holidays," said Dr. John Shaffer, former executive deputy secretary for the Pennsylvania Corrections Department.

            • by BankRobberMBA ( 4918083 ) on Sunday October 01, 2017 @11:56AM (#55287927)

              Convicted felon here.

              In two county jails and two federal prisons I was in, the facility itself makes no money directly from phone calls. The phone services are provided by outside vendors/contractors. There is an argument to be made that there is nepotism and corruption in play, but I think you would have to examine that on a case by case basis.

              I suspect the kickback model is the most popular. In the insider model, the Bush family is the most common suspect.

              From my personal experience, most facilities' motivation not to seek a better deal for their inmates is a combination of laziness and a feeling that they need/want to punish the prisoners.

      • by Lesrahpem ( 687242 ) <.ten.handai. .ta. .llunved.> on Sunday October 01, 2017 @09:16AM (#55287295) Homepage

        Years ago I spent some time incarcerated in an Ohio prison (my life's changed since then, I just want to point out I have a certain perspective about this).

        Most of the phone use I witnessed or heard about was just so people could make reasonable phone calls to family. Picture this: You've got 6 pay phones in a block housing 500 people, and the phones are only open for about 4 hours a day. It's Thanksgiving and the line to use the phone stays 30 people long. Fights happen over the phones. I have seen someone beaten by another inmate because he was on the phone for too long.

        To add insult to injury it cost like $2.50 to make a phone call, and then about $1.00 a minute and the phones would disconnect and drops calls all the time (if I remember the prices correctly).

        • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday October 01, 2017 @10:21AM (#55287525)

          Inmates that have regular communication with their families and friends have lower recidivism rates, and have fewer disciplinary problems in prison. Making phone calls and visits more difficult is very stupid public policy.

      • by XXongo ( 3986865 )
        The post is right on target.

        The significant problem with prisons is that the guards are paid almost nothing, and as a result, many of the people who are applying are people who can't get other jobs. And the incentive to break the rules to make a few dollars is high.

      • More of the idiotic one line posts from this turkeydance moron. Why doesn't this clown get modded down? The real problem here is using prisons as a source of profit

        Turkeydance is far from being a moron: he pinpointed exactly the problem using only one word: “manglement”.

        It’s the management of prisons that is the culprit, by having prisons-for-profit that charge $15 per minute for phone calls.

      • I love this post and this guy.
    • by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Sunday October 01, 2017 @07:28AM (#55287049)
      No, just, no. The problem is the for profit prison system. For a supposedly free nation, we incarcerate a lot of people. It's a shame none of our elected officials grasp this concept. It's gotten to the point where our own system is so corrupt that many of the folks in power should be in prison. My definition of what constitutes criminality has changed in response to our elected leadership. It's amazing how closely tied the definition of crime is to socioeconomic status.
      • by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Sunday October 01, 2017 @08:53AM (#55287247)

        >"The problem is the for profit prison system. For a supposedly free nation, we incarcerate a lot of people. I[...] It's gotten to the point where our own system is so corrupt that many of the folks in power should be in prison"

        I agree that too many people are incarcerated and for too long (for those without violent crimes. Incarceration was supposed to be about rehabilitation, that was lost a long time ago. But that concept was lost long before "profit" prisons. If the metric for profit were shifted to people safely released without recidivism, that would change everything.

        • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

          (for those without violent crimes. Incarceration was supposed to be about rehabilitation, that was lost a long time ago.

          When was that ever part of the original concept of incarceration in the US? When the US was founded, prisons were all about punishment, not rehabilitation. Some of the most egregious examples of the times, debtors prisons, were officially removed nationally in 1833. They still exist, however, you might want to take a look. This noble thought of rehabilitation has never been an actual part of the prison system in the US. Once in, it's all about doing the time.

          • >"This noble thought of rehabilitation has never been an actual part of the prison system in the US."

            You have a good posting. Perhaps it never really was about rehabilitation, but it should be. It isn't easy, however.

          • Rehabilitation (Score:5, Insightful)

            by BankRobberMBA ( 4918083 ) on Sunday October 01, 2017 @12:17PM (#55288005)

            Actually, I think there was a drive toward rehabilitation in prison from the 60's to the late 80's, especially at the federal level. They claimed three purposes of incarceration; the three R's: Restraint (I'm not robbing more banks while I'm locked up), Retribution (punishment to help victims feel closure and serve as a deterrent to other), Rehabilitation (changing me so I am less likely to break the law after my eventual release).

            Restraint clearly works. I robbed 0 banks during the entire time I was in prison.
            Retribution seems to work. I can't tell you how many people have told me they have always wanted to rob a bank but were too scared of the punishment.
            Rehabilitation pretty much left the federal system in 1987. Reagan and a couple of Supreme Court decisions effectively removed both the expectation and the reality of rehabilitative efforts. They gutted the the programming available to inmates, which had been quite extensive in some places.

            • Actually, I think there was a drive toward rehabilitation in prison from the 60's to the late 80's, especially at the federal level. They claimed three purposes of incarceration; the three R's: Restraint (I'm not robbing more banks while I'm locked up), Retribution (punishment to help victims feel closure and serve as a deterrent to other), Rehabilitation (changing me so I am less likely to break the law after my eventual release).

              Restraint clearly works. I robbed 0 banks during the entire time I was in prison.
              Retribution seems to work. I can't tell you how many people have told me they have always wanted to rob a bank but were too scared of the punishment.
              Rehabilitation pretty much left the federal system in 1987. Reagan and a couple of Supreme Court decisions effectively removed both the expectation and the reality of rehabilitative efforts. They gutted the the programming available to inmates, which had been quite extensive in some places.

              I don't think any serious academics believe rehabilitation is currently a purpose of prison, even remotely. There are a few effective rehabilitative programs--good drug courts, for example--but they are the exception, not the rule.

      • by hey! ( 33014 )

        While I agree with your characterization of the for-profit prison system and it's malignant relationship with politics, I think it's jumping to conclusion that it is "the" problem in this situation.

        For example the drone-assisted escape alluded to in the summary took place at a state-owned and state-operated prison in South Carolina.

        I suspect a deeper problem with our prisons, which is that they're essential public institutions that aren't very glamorous or attractive (to normal people) as a career path. Do

        • if you step back and look at the entire prison system, the idea that you could improve it by squeezing more economic efficiencies out of it seems pretty far-fetched.

          While that's true, I think we have a much bigger problem with corrections officers than a lack of glamor, and that problem is that they're taught to treat prisoners like animals... not that we should treat animals that way, either.

          • by hey! ( 33014 )

            I don't see this as an either/or. It's the low value we set on that job allows that attitude to prevail.

          • Also, it attracts a certain personality type that enjoys having immense power over helpless people.

      • by elrous0 ( 869638 )

        For a supposedly free nation, we incarcerate a lot of people. It's a shame none of our elected officials grasp this concept.

        Oh, they grasp it. They just don't give a shit.

      • The problem is the for profit prison system. For a supposedly free nation, we incarcerate a lot of people. It's a shame none of our elected officials grasp this concept.

        Oh but they do. They completely grasp that this makes them look hard on crime, and they don’t increase taxes. In a land full of ignorant barbarians who cream at their pants at the barbaric concept of revenge, it’s a surefire way of getting elected.

      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday October 01, 2017 @10:13AM (#55287491)

        The problem is the for profit prison system.

        About 8% of US inmates are in private for-profit prisons.

        South Carolina, which the TFA says has the worst problem with cellphones, has no private prisons.

        Oklahoma, listed as the second worst, does use private prisons.

        For a supposedly free nation, we incarcerate a lot of people.

        America's incarceration rate is about 4 times the first world average.

        Incarceration rates vary widely by state, and increases in the incarceration rate are not positively correlated with reductions in crime. Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate. Maine has the lowest.

  • We're jamming (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bestweasel ( 773758 ) on Sunday October 01, 2017 @06:19AM (#55286909)

    The only thing that will stop this is jamming the signal in prisons and that will need to be under federal control seeing as it's the staff who smuggle most of the phones in.

    • Re:We're jamming (Score:5, Insightful)

      by user no. 590291 ( 590291 ) on Sunday October 01, 2017 @06:29AM (#55286921)
      Another way would be to pass legislation to require carriers to block prison locations from connecting to the towers, with a whitelist of IMEIs for prison staff.
      • Re:We're jamming (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Sunday October 01, 2017 @06:39AM (#55286935) Homepage

        Even better would be to pipe all traffic through monitoring systems - and radio seal the whole prison so that phones will only roam to the base stations inside the prison.

        Any calls made would be incriminating for the receiver. Text messages should be scrambled or reviewed and thrown through autocorrecters and "talk like Yoda" to mess up any covert stuff.

        • Love the "talk like Yoda" idea! "Whacked, $RIVAL_GANG_MEMBER must be."
        • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

          Even better would be to pipe all traffic through monitoring systems - and radio seal the whole prison so that phones will only roam to the base stations inside the prison.

          Any calls made would be incriminating for the receiver. Text messages should be scrambled or reviewed and thrown through autocorrecters and "talk like Yoda" to mess up any covert stuff.

          Just what we need, IT contracts for prisons so that we can waste even more taxpayer dollars on them. I have a better solution to this. Take all the extreme law offenders and drop them on a deserted island with nothing including cell phones or cell phone service. Low tax cost and it reduces the prison population. Or you could threaten the inmates with this. Keep your shit up and you're all going to the island.

          • Apparently you're not a student of history. Prison colonies have been done before, and magically, the problem has not been solved. Any more brilliant ideas, Sherlock?
            • by jafiwam ( 310805 )

              Apparently you're not a student of history. Prison colonies have been done before, and magically, the problem has not been solved. Any more brilliant ideas, Sherlock?

              What problem are you thinking they tried to solve?

              An island is a very cost-effective method of incarceration. And it suits the primary goal of a prison: keep that idiot away from everybody else.

              Unless you think the goal was "eugenically breed out criminal genes from the population" then your statement is completely stupid.

              We don't use them because the islands are more valuable now, and the ideas about caring for prisoners have changed from what they were.

              • You do realize, this is loosely how they made Australia. The U.S. was a dumping ground for incorriagiables as well, but we don't talk about that much.
              • An island is a very cost-effective method of incarceration.

                Alcatraz was closed because of excessive costs.

                And it suits the primary goal of a prison: keep that idiot away from everybody else.

                Most inmates are convicted of non-violent offenses, and are not a physical threat to other people.

          • Just what we need, IT contracts for prisons so that we can waste even more taxpayer dollars on them. I have a better solution to this. Take all the extreme law offenders and drop them on a deserted island with nothing including cell phones or cell phone service. Low tax cost and it reduces the prison population. Or you could threaten the inmates with this. Keep your shit up and you're all going to the island.

            So your solution to wasting taxpayer dollars is to bring back Devil's Island. Why not just execute them?

            • by hord ( 5016115 )

              Because we are supposed to have higher morals. Ostracism is regarded as the ultimate moral punishment since it deprives the ostracized of easy or community access to life resources while not condemning them to death outright. It also allows for the possibility of reconciliation over time. The Greek's called it "exile".

              By executing people, you are saying outright that you are willing to use murder as a way of negotiating complex problems. Whether you consider this just or not, other's can and will use th

          • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

            Jones Islands [google.se] would be a great spot then.

      • by Suki I ( 1546431 )

        And in a short decade or two, we will "discover" the same prisoners who run gangs from cell phones in prison now are on that whitelist too.

        • The whitelisted IMEIs could be subject to monitoring. Traffic patterns would differ between COs calling home and gang leaders running operations. The NSA has this down--there could be a little technology transfer.
          • P.S.: Or prisons could just become cell-free zones. Radios could be used to communicate internally and landlines externally. This is not a hard problem to solve should the government have the will.
          • by Suki I ( 1546431 )

            A whitelist, by its very nature, is monitored. Same goes for prisoners. Somehow that perfect plan isn't working out so well.

        • And in a short decade or two, we will "discover" the same prisoners who run gangs from cell phones in prison now are on that whitelist too.

          If each whitelisted IMEI is tied to a guard's name, somebody would have some 'splainin' to do. A more likely scenario would be that guards would loan out their phones for short term calls. The only way to combat that would be to monitor all whitelisted calls, and I can just guess how the contract negotiations over that would go.

          • The explanation is simple. His wife told him a man told her it's better for her health and that of his kids if he lets the kingpin use the cellphone.

            • by Suki I ( 1546431 )

              Yes, the nice man wrongly incarcerated who just needs to talk to his grandma.

              • Me? I didn't tell nobody to do anything like that? He asked if I want to call my mommy and I said sure, who wouldn't wanna talk to his mommy? I thought he's nice to me 'cause I have such a perfect behaviour record.

      • This works until the prison bartering and bribery system catches up. Prison guards can be bribed to have certain "favors" done. The bottom line is that there is no perfect solution. The best possible solution is take the profit out of prison operation.
        • Re: We're jamming (Score:5, Informative)

          by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Sunday October 01, 2017 @07:59AM (#55287129)

          This works until the prison bartering and bribery system catches up. Prison guards can be bribed to have certain "favors" done. The bottom line is that there is no perfect solution. The best possible solution is take the profit out of prison operation.

          Prisoners housed in for-profit (i.e. private) prisons are in the neighborhood of 8% of the prison population. I think you must be confusing profit with government's efforts to reduce prison costs, like the aforementioned expensive phone calls. I know my state of California isn't cutting a fat hog with income from prisons; it costs the state many billions per year to run the system.

      • Re:We're jamming (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Sunday October 01, 2017 @08:38AM (#55287215)

        Another way would be to pass legislation to require carriers to block prison locations from connecting to the towers, with a whitelist of IMEIs for prison staff.

        Yet another way, (not to stop it so much as to make it less prevalent), would be to do away with the ridiculous, self-serving, and frankly lazy practice of private for-profit prisons. Fifteen bucks for a two-minute phone call? That's just fucking outrageous! At the root of all of this, is the undeniable fact that when you turn prisons into a profit centre, capitalism will guarantee that their population is ever-increasing; and if some, (or many), of those people don't belong there, well, that's just the price of 'progress' and 'security'.

        Of course, maintaining this unfair and untenable situation is made much easier by the fact that the majority of the population is self-righteously happy with punishing those convicted of crimes, and doesn't care in the least about rehabilitating them.

      • Another way would be to pass legislation to require carriers to block prison locations from connecting to the towers

        How do you determine whether a phone is in a "prison location"?

    • Jam?! Way too much overkill. Just take a stroll through the scenic grounds of the prison with a laptop with Kismet.

      You'll find plenty of phones of folks who never turn their Wifi/WLAN off.

      • So you catch a few idiots, then they get wiser.

        Prisoners are to wardens what kids are to their parents: People with WAY more time at their hands and WAY more criminal energy to thwart whatever scheme you can come up with to reign them in. And no conscience keeping them from using it against you.

    • Re:We're jamming (Score:4, Insightful)

      by arobatino ( 46791 ) on Sunday October 01, 2017 @09:03AM (#55287279)

      Reducing the cost of using the prison phones to a reasonable amount would help.

  • Cellphones smuggled into prisons -- enabling inmates to order murders, plan escapes, deal drugs and extort money -- have become a scourge in a bloc of states where corrections officers anally confiscate as many as one for every three inmates.

    n/t

    "Inmates call their mothers like most of us do on holidays"

    Call their mothers what . . . ? And what do inmates say about the Mamas of other inmates . . . ?

    Meth rings operated by prisoners with cellphones, some with ties to prison gangs like the Aryan Brotherhood, the Irish Mob Gang and the United Blood Nation

    Ok, Aryan Brotherhood . . . probably some folks who have no fucking clue about what Hitler, Goebbels and their retinue were squawking about.

    Irish Mob Gang: Isn't that title kinda a sorta reduntant . . . ?

    "We called our first operation, "The Gang" . . . however, we have now upgraded ourselves to be a "Mob Gang"

    The "United Blood Nation": a friend of mine has O+ and donates regularly. Can she apply do be a

  • So long as they are not ordering pizza an Pepsi with those phones, all should be well.

  • by Swistak ( 899225 ) on Sunday October 01, 2017 @06:50AM (#55286977) Homepage
    This is what you get when you privatize prison system.

    and in case you haven't heard yet: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      his is what you get when you privatize prison system.

      The problem is almost all aspects of US society are privatized, and the Republicans are busy trying to privatize the rest. Nobody gives a shit how effective these things are, or if they are doing a better job ... as long as some asshole company is making profits, the people who are impacted can fuck off.

      Schools, healthcare, prisons, utilities ... America is reduced to nothing but idiots claiming lassez faire capitalism will save us all, when even Adam S

    • This is what you get when you privatize prison system. and in case you haven't heard yet: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      According to, ahem, Wikipedia, private prisons house about 8% of the prison population.

  • Stingray (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Suki I ( 1546431 ) on Sunday October 01, 2017 @06:58AM (#55287007) Homepage Journal

    Maybe not exactly the right tool, but something in that category. For some reason, the government can't figure out how to use Stingray properly and have a host of circuit court rulings against them.

    In a prison, the cell phones of prisoners are contraband. A Stingray like device could be used for intercepting those and figuring out the rest of the criminal enterprises.

    The BOP could also make cell phones contraband for the staff too, and solve a whole sorting problem.

  • Possible Solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ytene ( 4376651 ) on Sunday October 01, 2017 @07:32AM (#55287057)
    Over the years I've read various discussions concerning the problems caused by use of mobile phones in certain areas - for example within a cinema or theatre. Suggestions for remedies have included, for example, extending the cell phone standard to allow a "local suppressor signal", which could be generated by a licensed and restricted-access transmitter, and which would then need to be respected by handset OS providers.

    I think the complexity of implementation prohibited further development...

    However, there is a much simpler approach that could be of specific relevance to prisons, since these are, by their very nature, often "stand-alone" structures, kept well away from other buildings. The solution would involve placing multiple local cell towers at the periphery of the prison grounds, and have them provide a strong, healthy signal in the area. This would force all local handsets to handshake with one of these local towers.

    Except these would be special towers, with the ability for the prison officers to use triangulation to determine the location of the handset. If there was a suggestion that a handset requesting access to the tower was physically within the area of the prison, then the handset could be blocked from accessing the cell network. Since the local towers would know the ID of the handset, it could simultaneously be sent a simple SMS message explaining why access had been blocked [as a courtesy to innocent passers-by, so they would know it wasn't a general reception problem]. This technique could easily be modified to permit guards to use their handsets in appropriate areas [such as a canteen]. Obviously, for security reasons, you would not want to permit guards to walk around inside a prison with a cell-phone [because a bribed guard could easily give an inmate access].

    When enough towers are available, triangulation of handsets is both reliable and accurate, so not only could it be used to block use of handsets by inmates, it could in theory be used to determine the physical location of handsets to an area of the prison of no more than a few cells. If that could then be coupled with local hand-held scanners, locating and confiscating illegal handsets might become quite a lot easier.
    • It's actually not difficult to man-in-the-middle cell phones in this manner. Law enforcement already has and uses the tools required.

      A much simpler solution would be to put four or more mini towers around the prison, using highly directional antennas aimed at the ground on the far side of the facility. Cells will use the strongest available signal by design, so any call from within the facility will go through your logged and recorded lines (and cell towers can already be used to do triangulation, you'd

    • by Luthair ( 847766 )

      Cinemas aren't likely to be able to setup a jammer which doesn't have an effect outside the theatre - if they were serious about blocking signal they'd build a faraday cage.

      Jails could also just setup stingrays and intercept all devices....

    • so that SMS will be changed to people who just drive by who don't have an texting plan?? turning it in a toll road for some.

  • Or maybe ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Torton ( 1367965 ) on Sunday October 01, 2017 @07:42AM (#55287087)
    Or maybe put less people in prison? As a European I can not suppress the impression that the US is using its prison system as a giant rug under which to hide some structural problems in its society. Alas, I see the same tendency here in some political parties, so it is probably only a matter of time ... but one may hope as long as one can vote.
    • Re:Or maybe ... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Sunday October 01, 2017 @10:12AM (#55287481)

      It's not being used to hide structural problems. It's being used to perpetuate them. See, the only way to remove voting rights from someone in the US in a permanent way is to convict them of a crime. Criminals also can get hired by private companies at essentially slave wages. Then, those prisons are run by other private corporations, who get paid by the state to house their slave labor they then rent out. They then funnel some of their profits as campaign contributions to the politicians who enable the system.

      Further, you should look at how fines work in the US. We fine people for needing to pay fines over time. We remove people's drivers licenses because they owe money, and then fine them for driving without a license (usually in states where there aren't other options to get to/from work, etc.)

      It's a super fucked up system. Kafka would be proud.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by King_TJ ( 85913 )

        The system has a lot of problems, but your explanation is questionable too.

        You *really* think we're imprisoning people primarily to strip them of their voting rights? Corporations are worried that common citizens will vote in a way contrary to their interests so they prevent that by getting them locked up in large numbers? That might make a good dystopian sci-fi theme -- but kind of far-fetched.

        As for revoking driving privileges because someone owes money (typically unpaid child support)? That's arguably ov

        • Corporations are worried that common citizens will vote in a way contrary to their interests so they prevent that by getting them locked up in large numbers?

          No, I think Republicans want to disenfranchise poor/black people who are not likely to vote for them. That they get to enrich private companies is gravy on top of that. See poll taxes, and much of the voterID public justifications.

          (typically unpaid child support)? That's arguably overused

          Typically fines and court fees (sometimes related to driving, o

  • are about how to stop them from using the phones with 0 mention of the $15 2 minute privatized prison hellscape nightmare.

    Yea, some of these people are hardened career criminals but not all and the exploitation of these people who are already being punished by society should be criminal itself. This is literally a captive audience and even worse than the cable monopolies in your area.

  • by Neuronwelder ( 990842 ) on Sunday October 01, 2017 @08:37AM (#55287211)
    In the late 1960's and early '70's prisons were becoming alarmingly empty. Well in 1972 (sarcasm) good thing President Nixon came to the "rescue" starting the very expensive "War on Drugs," we pay taxes for. The prisons started to fill up again, mostly with people who could not afford a good attorney. - I would love to see an article explaining how we got to be the number 1 nation in imprisoning people. The over crowding that and systematic starvation. Cold and hot extremes they endure. How they now are making new laws to imprison more people because they have "Prisons for Profit", which are hungry for more prisoners. Forced labor. Forced payback on "rent" for your say. And we still pay taxes for private!! Also, how people get imprisoned for minor infractions like having as little 1 joint in their possession in some States.
    • I would love to see an article explaining how we got to be the number 1 nation in imprisoning people.

      There's 10s of thousands of articles out there on the War on Drugs, take your pic.

      The real problem is our inability accept facts and logic. Eliminating drug abuse by forcefully stopping it wasn't an entirely unreasonable thing to try, especially back then when the issue wasn't well studied. But it's 100 years now since the first drug prohibition, and >40 of the modern War on Drugs. It has been demonstrated beyond any doubt that no matter how harsh the penalties, even the death penalty for drugs some co

  • Prisons have a cellphone problem. The rest of us have a Stingray problem. Put two and two together, apply whitelisting and recording as appropriate, and add a footnote about a "reasonable expectation of privacy". Problem solved.
  • ... Stingrays and electronic sweeps, close-range, won't find cell phones?

  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Sunday October 01, 2017 @10:14AM (#55287497)

    As long as there's a profit to be turned from putting people in jail, guess what...more and more people will wind up in jail.

    The world would be a better place if those turning a profit from incarcerating non-violent criminals were held accountable for the damage they've done to society and forced to spend the rest of their lives in the institutions they created.

  • How to cut down illegal cell phone calls? Use the cell-phone-signal blocking devices. Easy solution; effective solution. BUT, and Thanks-to-the USA-Federal-Government's-Forwarding-Thinking-Congress-and-past-POTUS, also illegal. Why does the Federal Government stick it's nose into every area of our lives.
  • At least these inmates aren't using their cellphones to start a nuclear war with North Korea via Twitter.

  • So what they want to do is mandate firmware for all phones to allow them to disable, complete, all functionality of a phone. We have only their word that they won't disable *MY* phone, or *YOUR* phone, that they won't accidentally read off the wrong IMEI and disabled Trump's phone..

    And here's the way around this: buy your prison phone from Europe, or Asia, pop a US SIM in it, and you're good to go. Asia, in particular, has low cost phones that won't observe any firmware "shutdown" commands as they are made

  • Block cell phones from connecting. Solved in one.
  • They have a completely locked-down environment and they still can't control it? Really?. There are so many obvious solutions to this problem.The fact that this is even an issue can only be either utter incompetence or blatant corruption. Either way someone badly needs to get fired.

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