Kansas City, Mo. — The “cell” in cell phones has taken on a whole new meaning, prison officials say.
The smuggling of the phones among inmates has sparked some officials to push for a change in federal regulations to allow technology that jams cell phone signals. The officials say the phones are reaching prison cells too easily and being used to arrange escapes, drug deals, kidnappings and even murders.
“I don’t think there is a correctional facility in the country that hasn’t been dealing with this issue,” said Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman Bill Miskell.
Prisoners are provided with telephone access through landlines, which typically can be used only to call approved people collect. The calls are subject to monitoring and recording.
The rise in cell phone use in the free world has led to more locked-up individuals getting the phones into their hands.
In Kansas, convicted killer John Manard planned his 2006 Lansing prison escape using a cell phone smuggled by an accomplice. The following year, two inmates escaped another Kansas prison with the help of a former guard and a smuggled cell phone.
George Camp, co-executive director of the Association of State Correctional Administrators, said officials in various states confiscate hundreds of illegally smuggled cell phones every year.
Camp said his organization is having its members call for the Federal Communications Commission to change current regulations that don’t allow cell phone signal jamming.