While drugs, cash and tobacco have long been highly valued prison contraband, Texas officials say cell phones have joined the ranks of the most prized illicit commodities inside Texas prison cells. “And they’re not getting the phones so that they can call their mothers on Mother’s Day,” says one Texas prison official. “They’re getting them to keep their communications open on the outside with their organized criminal activities and to make sure they’re getting all the drugs that they need.”
The Texas Legislature attempted to address the problem in 2003 by making it a third-degree felony to provide an inmate with a cell phone, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. But inmates keep finding ways to get the phones into prison.