Since the posting of our article “Cell Phones in Prison” on February 19, there have been comments in favor of limited cell phone use for inmates in prison and numerous comments in opposition to any cell phones for inmates in prison. Those who favor cell phones in prison, stress this will strengthen the ties between the inmate and his family. On the other hand, the opponents argue that cell phones in prison will be used by a substantial number of inmates for criminal activity.
As a former inmate, I have to agree with the latter that some inmates will take advantage of cell phones and use the cellphones for illegal activities. I also concur with the opinions that certain inmates will coerce the weaker inmates to give their cell phones up to be used by stronger and violent inmates. Greater emphasis should be placed upon reducing phone rates for the telephone land lines that are already available in the prisons for inmates. As discussed in our latest article about predatory telephone rates.
The following three comments demonstrate the differences of opinions.
1. Nicola – I couldn’t agree more with all your comments – however the issue of cell phones in prisons appears to be a global phenomenon, and all too often they are being used to NOT call their families and friends as mentioned above. For this reason we are working closely with prison services around the world to devise technology which will detect, re-active block any calls, text messages etc. to try and ensure that the public remains safe(r) as well as the prison officers who are tasked with looking after these individuals. We are aware that there are number of technologies out there which provide a ‘blanket coverage’ of the issue by jamming the signals however this is simply putting a band aid over the issue and not resolving the matter. Only by locating phones, removing them and keeping the areas ‘clean’ will hopefully in time encourage inmates that it is a waste of their time trying to communicate in unauthorized ways with the outside world and refocus their energies on more productive things.
2. By Frans – It is possible to provide cellphones for inmates and staff. First good reason is that it is a professional obligation to support contact with the outside world as much as possible. Second reason is that you can use these cellphones for contact between staff and inmates, to communicate about things like the daily programs (access to education, exercise, care and shop, for example) and you can even use it for security: you can spot where somebody is. In most countries, like mine, the law says that the contacts with the outside world have to take place in a “controlled way”. It is possible, as a prison, to be your own provider and put an “umbrella” over the prison to control your telecommunication. In Holland we are far away from that reality. Not because of Technology, but because of the fact that our repressive climate does not allow benefits for inmates or their families. We even cannot make it possible to let the children of inmates email their incarcerated mother or father. Our former liberal country gets beaten by the US, Russia and England on that matter…….
3. By Tony – Give me a cell phone in prison and I will find a way to make money with it, tell my victim or the family member what I think of them, get information on staff I can use against them, order hits on the outside, let it be known where a certain inmate is housed make nasty calls to people i don’t know just to pass the time and I may even order pizza! Prison is a place to provide correction for the inmate and safety to the community. When you have relationship problems with your kid because of what YOU did and where it landed you, maybe, just maybe you will make the connection: crime bad – family good.