California senators yesterday approved a bill making it a crime for prisoners to possess a cellphone or for anyone to smuggle one to an inmate, says the Christian Science Monitor. Prisoners increasingly use cellphones to maintain ties with gangs, orchestrate crimes inside and outside facilities, and plan escapes. Thousands of phones have found their way across prison walls – smuggled by corrupt prison staff, mailed by family members, or thrown over fences. This year, 1,400 cellphones have been confiscated in California prisons; 2,800 were found last year.
The measure puts California, with the nation’s largest prison population, in line with a growing number of states that have either passed laws to combat the scourge of cellphones inside jails and prisons or enacted new procedures – from daily searches of prison employees to using dogs that can sniff out cellphones. Texas, Nevada, and Florida have passed laws making cellphone possession by inmates a felony.