“Managed Access” System May Solve Prison Cellphone Problem


Technology is changing life inside prisons at the same rapid-fire pace it is changing life outside, says the New York Times. A smartphone hidden under a mattress is the modern-day file inside a cake. “This kind of thing was bound to happen,” said Martin Horn, a former commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “The physical boundaries that we thought protected us no longer work.”

Although prison officials have long battled illegal cellphones, smartphones have changed the game. With Internet access, a prisoner can call up phone directories, maps, and photographs for criminal purposes. Gang violence and drug trafficking are increasingly being orchestrated online. The solution may be a new system in Mississippi that is being tested in other states and has the cellphone industry's support. Called managed access, the system establishes a network around a prison that detects every call and text. Callers using cellphones that are not on an approved list receive a message saying the device is illegal and will no longer function.

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