It may or may not come as a surprise to you that cell phones enter jails illegally.
Many decades ago, the New Jersey State Bureau of Prisons routinely uncovered hundreds of cell phones smuggled into various jails each year.
We believe that all federal and state prisons and jails designate personal cell phones owned by convicts as contraband, making it illegal for detained individuals to possess a cell phone.
There are valid reasons why convicts are prohibited from possessing cell phones.
Prisoners can use a cell phone for:
- Coordinating illegal activities on the streets
- Sale of drugs
- Gang activity
- Intimidation of witnesses
- Coordinating escape attempts
- Arranging murders of witnesses or law enforcement personnel
If a prisoner is detected with a contraband cell phone, they may lose privileges, be thrown in solitary confinement, and/or be charged with a new crime.
This practise, which had been common in New Jersey for decades, has been much reduced in recent years.
In April 2017, Townsquare Media published about this topic.
“After 2010, a variety of corrective measures have been implemented, and cell phone smuggling has been drastically reduced. In 2016, fourteen were discovered throughout the year, however in the first three months of 2017, only one was discovered “The then-commissioner of the Department of Prisons, Gary Lanigan, stated.
Lanigan added, “In addition, we have specially trained canines that can detect cell phones, other detection technology including cameras, and specialist search teams that conduct random and targeted facility searches.”
Despite these measures, prisoners can still get their hands on cell phones by:
- Convincing a family member or friend to bring it to them during a visit.
- Finding a corrupt staff member willing to do it for cash.
New Jersey has succeeded in dramatically reducing this problem by taking four effective steps:
- hardened all prison entry points.
- enhanced the searches conducted.
- referred all cases of contraband cell phones to the appropriate prosecutor.
- enhanced the inmates’ ability to have legal access to a phone in order to be able to talk with family and other loved ones
They have discovered that unlawful mobile phone use in New Jersey prisons can be drastically reduced by enhancing the conditions under which prisoners are permitted to use a phone for legitimate purposes.
Every anybody caught with an illegal cell phone may be charged with a third-degree felony.
Typically, prisoners are permitted to make at least five phone calls per week to family members and business-related contacts.
In April 2020, Forbes.com reported that “Congress approved the Contraband Cell Phone Act, which forbids the possession of smartphones in jails by unauthorised persons, such as inmates.”
“When a cellular device is taken, it is transported to the Bureau of Prisons’ Forensic Laboratory in Washington, D.C., where technicians utilise forensic software to retrieve information, including incoming and outgoing phone numbers, text messages, and photographs stored in the phone’s memory” (internal and SD card). According to Forbes Magazine, anybody caught carrying a cell phone may face severe penalties.
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