A South Carolina plan to jam cell phone signals in prisons to prevent convicts from committing further crimes is against the law, reports the Associated Press. The struggle to stop cell phone use in prisons – where the devices may have become a form of cash – has states trying old-fashioned cell searches, sophisticated body scanners, even dogs trained to sniff out batteries and memory chips.
The federal Communications Act prevents states from using jammers or otherwise interfering with federal airwaves. The Federal Communications Commission can give federal agencies the authority to use such jammers; there’s no such provision for state and local law enforcement. “This is a classic example of a rule that has not kept up with technology,” said Jon Ozmint, South Carolina’s prison director. “It’s just hypocrisy beyond the pale of reason that the big bad federal government goes, ‘Oh, well, we can use this technology, but you poor little states can’t use the same technology to protect your citizens.'” Ozmint blames illegal cell phones for most of the state’s prison escapes. Ozmint has invited federal officials and the state congressional delegation to come to the maximum-security Lieber Correctional Institution, where CellAntenna Corp. will demonstrate jamming devices.