Saying that prison cell phone use has not been prosecuted aggressively enough, New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram said 35 inmates have been indicted on charges of possessing phones, reports the Newark Star-Ledger. Although such cases are usually handled by county officials, Milgram said state authorities will increasingly target the phones’ black market supply chain and seek extended prison terms for violators.
Inmates, particularly gang members, use phones to direct criminal activity and intimidate witnesses outside prison walls, officials say. “This is not what should happen when we put criminals behind bars,” Milgram said. “The public has a right to expect that when criminals are locked up they won’t be in a position to continue to generate crime and violence in our communities.” The state confiscated 226 cell phones in prisons and 165 in halfway houses between August 2008 and July 2009.