More than eight thousand cell phones have been confiscated from inmates in the last year and a half. This shows us that it is not a small problem. Indeed, it is a very big problem. Just ask Robert Johnson, who was a correctional officer who was in charge of confiscating contraband when it was smuggled into the prison. After he confiscated a package that contained contraband that was worth thousands of dollars, an angry inmate used an illegal cell phone to orchestrate a hit on him. Someone knocked down his door early one morning and shot him in the chest six times at close range. Fortunately, he survived to live the tale and to start a crusade against inmates using cell phones.
Inmates are coming up with creative ways to smuggle in cell phones. For example, some are brought by friends who visit them and discreetly give them a phone. Others are provided by drones that drop them off in the prison yards.
Robert Johnson says that confiscating phones is not a real solution to the problem. He says that something much bigger must be done. He went to Washington to try to convince the FCC to make it easier for prison facilities to block calls that are made by inmates using illegal cell phones. Robert Johnson, who is now a consultant for Securus Technologies, says that the only real way to be one hundred percent sure that you are preventing inmates from using illegal cell phones is by actually using special technology to block the calls. Florida itself is using Securus Technologies in order to prevent calls from connecting to the mobile network when they are made by inmates.
Securus Technologies has a unique Wireless Containment Solution that does just that. A spokesperson explained that the system works like a cell phone tower. It basically is able to control which calls go in and out within a particular location. This way, when a call goes in, those that operate the prison can decide what to do with that call. If a phone is not authorized, then the phone call simply will not work. The call will be disconnected immediately, and the inmate will not be able to talk to anyone. In other words, the phone becomes a brick, unable to do anything besides call emergency services. A call cannot go into the network either without permission if it is calling an unauthorized phone.
Rick Smith said that he consistently hears from the prisons he services that inmates with cell phones pose a great danger, and he is happy to have a solution for them. Of course, cell phones used by correctional officers are authorized and can make calls as usual.