Global Tel Link will pay millions to install technology in California prisons to block Web searches, text messages and phone calls by inmates using smuggled phones, reports the Los Angeles Times. The company will do the work for free because it owns the traditional pay phones prisoners can legally use. Company officials are betting that once the contraband cell devices are disabled, demand for pay phones will skyrocket.
Like other states, California is battling the problem of phones smuggled to inmates, some of whom use them to run criminal enterprises on the streets, organize assaults on guards and intimidate witnesses, prison officials say. Last year, California prison guards confiscated more than 15,000 contraband phones, nearly one for every 11 inmates. A prison officials called it “groundbreaking and momentous technology.” Others have called for searches of prison employees — a main source of contraband cellphones, officials say — on their way into work, but the politically powerful California prison guards’ union has fought that, arguing it would be an insult to members and would cost the state millions.