Is cellphone signal jamming the answer for drugs, violence in prisons?

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Posted by jammer from the Education category at 18 Dec 2023 06:09:50 am.
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The newly appointed attorney general of Oklahoma, along with other distinguished prosecutors across the nation, is calling upon Congress to enact a law that would legitimize the practice of blocking cellphone signals at state prisons.
signal blocker device
Attorney General Gentner Drummond highlighted the fact that criminal enterprises can be conducted behind prison walls. He emphasized the necessity for law enforcement to have access to the appropriate tools, urging Congress to promptly address this issue.

Drummond joined 21 other attorneys general last week in a letter urging Congress to pass ''meaningful" legislation allowing states to jam cellphones at prisons.

In their address to congressional leaders on Wednesday, the prosecutors highlighted that inmates are employing contraband cell phones to organize murders, riots, drug deals, fraud, and a multitude of other illicit activities. The alarming reality is that these cell phones are currently unblockable, thereby presenting an ongoing and significant threat to public safety.

Cellphones used to direct drug rings from inside prisons, DOJ says

The release of statistics by the U.S. Department of Justice has prompted a fresh drive to amend the law, drawing attention to the alarming state of affairs in Oklahoma.

In a news release on Friday, the U.S. attorney from Oklahoma City highlighted that state inmates affiliated with four separate criminal organizations were able to access contraband cell phones despite their incarceration. This facilitated their continued direction of drug trafficking and violent networks through communication with associates outside the prison walls.

“Now, 275 dangerous criminals have been held accountable, more than a half-ton of poisonous drugs and 393 firearms have been removed from the streets, and $1.3 million in cash has been taken away from drug traffickers," U.S. Attorney Bob Troester said about the results of the drug prosecutions.

As per the news release, thirty offenders were incarcerated while they were actively leading drug rings, which were notorious for their violent nature. It is noteworthy that these individuals managed the operations by utilizing smuggled cellphones.

Sentenced in December was Eduardo Rosales, a leader of a ring operated by the Southside Locos gang that distributed methamphetamine from Mexico across the state in 2019. Rosales, 37, of Oklahoma City, was already in state prison at the time for drug offenses.

Chance Alan "Wolfhead" Wilson, a resident of Purcell, was sentenced in December for the murder of his sister. While serving his time in state prison, Wilson was found to be running a drug ring. Federal prosecutors have identified Wilson, aged 38, as a prominent figure in the Universal Aryan Brotherhood, a prison gang.

The judge ruled that both offenders must serve 30 years in federal prison.
Thousands of cellphones seized from Oklahoma facilities
Last year, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections reported the confiscation of 5,247 cellphones in both state-run and privately operated correctional facilities, as announced on Friday.

"Despite the presence of cellphone-detecting K-9 units and nonstop intelligence-gathering efforts, some phones still manage to get through. That is a reality faced at all levels, from county jails to federal prisons," said Josh Ward, chief of communications.

Court records have brought to light the fact that guards have been involved in the unauthorized introduction of cellphones into Oklahoma prisons. Additionally, these devices have been illicitly delivered by either being thrown over prison fences or dropped using drones.

Oklahoma authorities have emphasized the need for innovative solutions to tackle the proliferation of illicit cellphones.

Governor Kevin Stitt, in 2019, highlighted the necessity of addressing the technology issue with a suitable technological solution. This statement was made following a series of gang-related conflicts in six prisons, which subsequently led to the implementation of lockdowns.

The governor's office has emphasized that the use of contraband cellphones by inmates allowed for communication that facilitated the occurrence of the "premeditated acts of violence".

During that specific year, Senator James Lankford from the United States spoke in favor of granting states the ability to utilize jamming signal technology.

“Why don't we change that law?” Lankford asked on the Senate floor. “Great question. A question that should have been answered by this body a long time ago, but communications companies and cellphone company lobbyists overwhelmed this body and pushed back and say, ‘Let's study the issue.’”

He said he repeatedly met with leaders at the Federal Communications Commission in an effort to resolve the issue. "Each year ... they say, 'We're studying it.'"
FCC opposes cellphone jamming, citing safety concerns
The FCC has long held a firm opposition to the introduction of jamming wifi technology within state prisons.

In one of its statements, the FCC has highlighted that it causes more problems than it resolves. Additionally, it can disrupt mobile 911 calls and public safety communication.

Despite Lankford's involvement as a cosponsor, the Cellphone Jamming Reform Act, introduced in August, failed to receive a vote and ultimately met its end.

In a tweet last week, Lankford highlighted the necessity for states to possess jamming authority.
During 2021, the FCC devised a procedure enabling designated prison officials to formally request wireless providers to turn off cell signals individually, without the requirement of obtaining a court order.
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