South Carolina’s proposal to jam cell phone signals in prisons violates federal law, but regulators said Thursday they are willing to work with officials in their efforts to keep inmates from making calls using the contraband devices, reports the Associated Press. State prisons chief Jon Ozmint wants to demonstrate how the jamming technology would work. Federal Communications Commission spokesman Robert Kenny said the agency recognizes officials’ distress about contraband cell phones, which some say have become a new form of cash behind bars.
The FCC can grant federal agencies the authority to use the jammers, which prevent cell tower signals from ever reaching a phone, effectively blocking all calls. But there’s no such provision for state and local law enforcement, and Ozmint has invited a company that sells the equipment to demonstrate it next week at a South Carolina prison. Experts say the consequences of not using jammers can be dire. Ozmint blames illegal cell phones for most escapes from South Carolina prisons. Critics say it’s impossible to contain the jamming technology to one or two buildings, and that using it runs the risk of affecting people using phones nearby.