By Jeffrey B. Haidinger, President & Chief Operating Officer, GTL
In 2010, former Corrections Captain Robert Johnson was shot six times in an attempted contract killing orchestrated via a contraband cell phone.
He survived the ordeal and recently wrote about the dangers of contraband cell phones in The Post and Courier.
(Here his story here. Courtesy of Ashleigh Holland and YouTube)
Captain Johnson is correct. Cell phones are a particularly dangerous form of contraband, and they have morphed into a national epidemic and a serious public safety issue.
As he said, “they are often used to organize protests, plan escapes, intimidate witnesses, facilitate the sale of weapons and drugs, and orchestrate murders from behind bars.”
It is not only corrections staff who are at risk, but the general public as well.
In November 2016, the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) sent a letter to the FCC citing examples of the horrific crimes that have been committed because an inmate had access to a contraband cellphone.
In their letter, the ASCA asked for the FCC to take immediate action and said that these forbidden cellphones infiltrating correctional facilities nationwide are a “dire public safety threat.”
As recently as early July 2017, a convicted kidnapper escaped a maximum-security prison in South Carolina using a contraband cell phone to coordinate the delivery of wire cutters via a drone. While he was later apprehended, this is a huge threat to public safety.
(Citing recent cases, local officials say escapes where inmates receive cell phone via drones are possible because federal authorities won’t let them jam cell phone signals in state prisons. Courtesy of NBC News and YouTube)
This incident occurred almost a week after South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) Director Bryan P. Stirling and other policy makers went before the U.S. Department of Justice and the FCC asking them to take action to defeat contraband cell phones for the safety of their corrections officers, employees, and for the public at large.
Technology partners to Corrections like GTL support and share in the concerns recently expressed by the ASCA, SCDC Director Stirling, and other correctional administrators.
The FCC is not the only organization that must participate in solving this problem.
Wireless carriers must realize their important role in closing the gap on this public safety issue.
Much like the public-private partnership these carriers formed to build and execute the AMBER Alert System, wireless carriers have the resources to help solve the contraband cell phone problem in the immediate future.
Unless wireless carriers take an active tole and work with the FCC and the corrections community to solve this problem, security incidents of all kinds will continue to occur.
(Learn More, courtesy of TomoNews US and YouTube)