AR Corrections Secretary urges support of measures to combat contraband cellphones in correctional facilities

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NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Secretary of Corrections Solomon Graves expressed appreciation to Arkansas Senators Tom Cotton and John Boozman for urging the Federal Communications Commission in a September 17 letter to address the widespread use of contraband devices in correctional facilities.

“Additional action to curb the use of contraband cellphones in correctional facilities is overdue,” Secretary Graves said. “At stake is the safety of the 6,000 brave men and women who make up the Arkansas Department of Corrections family. We see every day the dangerous ramifications of inmates using contraband cellphones to conduct illegal activities and engage in extortion and fraud schemes from inside the walls of our units. Already this year, the Department has confiscated over 900 contraband cellphones. We cannot allow inmates to continue to victimize the public from their cells with cellphones. Arkansas families should not have to endure seeing social media posts and texts from inmates who have been convicted of perpetrating crimes against them.”

Since April of 2017, the Arkansas Department of Corrections has confiscated over 7,000 contraband cellphones.

Secretary Graves urges federal telecommunications agency leaders to address the rampant use of contraband devices in prisons by exploring the following:

  • Remove legal hurdles that require phone carriers to obtain court orders before disabling contraband cellphones. Wireless carriers should be required to immediately disable a cellphone device when authorities identify a contraband device
  • Support the use of geofencing, quiet zones, network-based solutions, and beacon technology
  • Expand studies on how prisons can safely use jammers and micro-jammers, including the creation of regulatory guardrails that would assure this technology is strictly limited to a facility’s boundaries
  • Change licensing and authorization processes to allow wireless carriers to voluntarily block their own signals and comply with federal law

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