Nevada prison officials are joining colleagues nationwide in a crackdown on what they say is widespread illegal cell phone use among inmates, reports the Las Vegas Sun. The state corrections department wants the legislature to allow the state prisons – with a judge's approval – to trace telephone calls to detect and confiscate cell phones smuggled to inmates.
Corrections Director Howard Skolnik, who is retiring this month, said the legislation is needed because inmates can use the phones to plot escapes, create disruptions in prison or coordinate other criminal activities with street gangs. “We don't have the authority to track cell phones, which is becoming an increasing problem in the prisons,” Skolnik said. “We have not confiscated that many, and that's a concern.” In California, the Los Angeles Times reported that that prison officials have taken more than 8,600 cell phones this year, and that notorious Charles Manson was caught with one under his mattress. Authorities in Georgia on Monday locked down four prisons after inmates used contraband cell phones to rally for better work and living conditions. Skolnik said, “It's a national problem, but we're not allowed to block cell phone calls” under a 1934 federal law.