“Can You Hear Me Now?”

Cell phones, everybody’s got one. Even prison inmates? Come on,  that’s absurd! Prisoners locked up in cells with cells! Inmates making thousands of calls from prison? No Way!

Charlie Manson's got one!

Well, you better believe it! Incarceration has not deterred many prisoners from running their criminal activities from behind bars, not even the confines of solitary or death row deter these criminals from using phones to run drugs, give orders to gang members on the outside, threaten or intimidate witnesses and harass victims.

In California alone upward of 10,000 cell phones were smuggled into prisons last year. At up to  $1000 per phone the illegal cell phone industry is big business. So how do 10,000 phone get into a heavily guarded, secure facility. Employees! That’s how. Prison guards and other staffers interested in making a fast buck. One guard busted for smuggling and selling cell phone was said to have made $150,000 in one year alone!  Easy money! And what became of the entrepreneur guard? He was fired immediately, but couldn’t be prosecuted because it is not against the law to take cell phones into prison! Can you believe that? You can take them in without breaking the rules but it’s a violation of prison rules to possess them behind bars. So if a prisoner is caught with a phone, a little extra time is added to their sentence, but if you smuggle a phone in you don’t get prosecuted. What’s wrong with this picture?

Prison officials are looking at ways to monitor guards and other employees entering the prison, but searches, metal detectors and scanning devices for employees are not only costly but time prohibitive, Union representatives argue that guards would have to be payed for the extra wait time standing in line for metal detectors, while prison officials think the time should not be compensated.  The line has been drawn.

State lawmakers are looking at a couple of different bills to deter the cell phone abuse in prisons. One would impose a $5000 fine to anyone caught trying to smuggle a phone to an inmate. The inmate could receive an additional 5 years added to their sentence. Not much of a deterrent for lifers like Charlie Manson or Sirhan Sirhan.

Charlie has been caught twice with a cell phone, most recently on January 6th of this year. I have to wonder, who the hell Charlie calls? Does he call other members of his killer cult? Does he text?

Charlie's family

Brutal killers, rapist, child molesters, kidnappers, robbers and thieves, all behind bars, all with cell phones. Drug Lords and gang leaders conducting business as usual from their cells with their cells! It’s just not right. Things have to change. You’d think they could jam the signal in and around the cell blocks or begin prosecuting those caught smuggling phones in, and make the fine and sentence extremely harsh!

There are solutions, but the wheels of change turn very slowly, so for now we just have to wait, while prison employees make a few extra bucks.

By the way, be sure to check the number the next time your phone rings, you never know who might be calling…  Can you hear me now?

just a thought…

J S

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