WASHINGTON- Too often, criminal activity doesn’t stop when a convict begins life behind bars.
Many use contraband cell phones to continue to direct gang activity and even violent crimes from inside the prison.
Congressman David Kustoff (R- Tennessee) and Tom Cotton (R- Arkansas) are working on a bill to give state prisons the legal option to jam mobile phone signals.
“They’re committing crimes from within the prisons,” says U.S. Rep. Kustoff.
The FCC reports many smuggle in cell phones that can keep them connected to crime.
“Some are ordering hits, ordering murders from within the prison,” Kustoff says. “It would give jails and prisons the option of using this technology.”
Some prison rights advocates argue Congress should instead work to keep contraband cell phones out of prison in the first place.
“It is really an example of closing the barn door long after the horse is gone,” says David Fathi, the Prison Project Director with ACLU.
Fathi says most prisoners depend on contraband cell phones not for crimes but to call their families, something that costs them about $10 a minute if they use a prison phone.
“If we made those phone calls affordable, contraband cell phones would all but disappear,” Fathi says.
The FCC doesn’t currently regulate the cost of those calls, turning its focus to blocking mobile signals.