Klobuchar calls for crackdown on using cell phones in prisonAs part of her ongoing Senate work on law enforcement issues, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar recently pushed for bipartisan legislation to address the growing problem of inmates using smuggled cell phones to orchestrate crimes from inside prison.
As part of her ongoing Senate work on law enforcement issues, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar recently pushed for bipartisan legislation to address the growing problem of inmates using smuggled cell phones to orchestrate crimes from inside prison.
Klobuchar is a cosponsor of the Safe Prisons Communications Act of 2009 with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), which would allow prisons to jam contraband cell phones, a cost-effective way for law enforcement to prevent the use of contraband cell phones to plan or execute crimes.
This week, a correctional officer at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota was indicted for allegedly smuggling contraband, including cell phones, to a prisoner.
“As a former prosecutor, I believe the first responsibility of government is to protect its citizens,” said Klobuchar. “Inmates should not be allowed to continue to commit crimes once they are locked up. We need to stop prisoners from using smuggled cell phones to continue their illegal activities.
“This legislation will give prison officials an important tool to help put an end to this serious problem. I look forward to working with wireless companies and other interested groups to address any technical issues and strengthen the bill.”
In recent years, there has been an increase in the smuggling and use of contraband cell phones in prisons. As cell phones have become smaller, smuggling and hiding phones has become easier. There have been many cases of inmates using cell phones to help orchestrate prison-breaks, conduct illegal activity, and harass or intimidate former victims.
Many states want to use wireless jamming equipment in their prisons to interfere with cell phone signals and render a prisoner’s wireless phone useless.
Prison officials argue that searches and wireless detection devices cost more and are more resource-intensive, and jamming is the most cost-effective way to counter contraband cell phones. Currently, radio signal jamming equipment is prohibited by the Communications Act of 1934.
The Safe Prisons Communications Act of 2009 would amend the Communications Act so that states and the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons can petition the Federal Communications Commission for a waiver to permit the installation of wireless jamming devices in correctional facilities.
Klobuchar said that she and other cosponsors of the bill are working to make sure the legislation addresses emergency technology concerns.
Under this legislation, correctional facilities would be required to operate the device in a manner that does not interfere with communications outside the prison facility.