Maryland officials say they have blocked service at the Baltimore City Detention Center for the contraband cellphones that have long fueled gang activity there, the Baltimore sun reports. Gov. Martin O’Malley is scheduled to announce today the activation of a “managed access” system, which officials say is already blocking unauthorized calls by inmates. State officials say the phones have been an essential tool for criminals inside the antiquated facility. Authorities say Black Guerrilla Family leader Tavon White used them to direct a contraband smuggling scheme, transfer payments and alert associates of planned searches.
A federal grand jury indicted dozens of people last year, including corrections officers, inmates and gang members outside the jail in the scheme. The outrage increased the urgency of the need for new security measures, which the state already had tried to put in place but had been stymiedby technological challenges. O’Malley said the phones would be useless once the state flipped the switch on its new, $4 million system. Rick Binetti, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said that the goal had been achieved. “If there are illegal cellphones inside Baltimore City Detention Center, they’re not working — any of them,” he said. He said the new system ensures that authorized phone calls and text messages to or from a limited number of state-issued phones will still get through — as will 911 calls from any device.