Dogs have long been used to find drugs in prisons, but Maryland has found a new use for them: sniffing out cell phones, the Baltimore Sun reports. Three canines were specially trained by correction division K-9 Unit officers to detect cell phones as part of stepped-up efforts to stop contraband from getting into state prisons. Maryland inmates have increasingly been caught with cell phones, which in some cases have been used to arrange drug deals or even killings from behind bars.
The new unit is part of a larger plan to find contraband. Other efforts include increased intelligence staff and technology at prison gate entries. Correction Commissioner J. Michael Stouffer said prison gates aren’t only intended to keep prisoners in, but also “to keep things out.” In the first six months of last year, prison officials confiscated 396 phones, but this year they have found 456, a 15 percent increase. Cell phones have become a hot commodity behind bars. In February, a corrections department source knowledgeable about the smuggling of contraband into state prisons said they were fetching $350 to $400 apiece or $500 for two. Chargers cost as much as $150 at the time.