Prisons Losing Battle Of Detecting Inmate Cellphones


The number of cellphones in Maryland prisons is rising despite efforts by corrections director Gary Maynard to contain them, says the Washington Post. In a prison system of 23,000 inmates, 947 cellphones were seized last year and 336 in the first four quarters of this year. Maynard has a team of three cell-sniffing dogs and an expanding supply of body orifice security scanners, or BOSS chairs, which are supposed to detect even the most delicately hidden cellphones. Now Maynard is trying to jam cellphone signals in prisons.

Jamming cellphone signals is illegal. The wireless industry has resisted calls to revisit that prohibition, saying jamming is inexact and could interfere with service to legitimate users. A bill pending in Congress would allow local and state governments to seek jamming authority from the Federal Communications Commission on a prison-by-prison basis. The Cellular Tellecommunications Industry Association wants states to abandon the jamming idea because calls outside prisons are likely to be jammed as well as inmate calls. Engineers are exploring other technologies, such as signal detection.

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