California prison officials have confiscated 4,130 contraband cellphones this year, more than all those seized in the previous three years combined, reports the Los Angeles Times. The report fueled concern among legislators that the proliferation of cellphones in state lockups is a growing security problem.
“Investigations conducted within California prisons have supported allegations [that] cellphones have been used by incarcerated felons to participate in criminal activity,” said Matthew Cate, secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Crimes committed by inmates using cellphones have included the planning of escapes, restraining order violations, use of stolen credit cards to purchase inmate quarterly packages and the coordination of smuggling contraband into prisons, Cate said. State Sen. Alex Padilla, who has proposed legislation that would make it a crime for inmates to possess cellphones in prison, said, “We knew this was a problem two years ago, and it seems to be growing exponentially worse.”