Smuggling cell phones to California inmates now a misdemeanor

SACRAMENTO - The California Legislature is getting tough on people who smuggle cell phones to prisoners.

The state Senate on Monday unanimously passed SB525, which would make it a misdemeanor to deliver a cell phone or other wireless communication device to an inmate. It also would criminalize possessing such a device with the intention of giving it to a prisoner.

Violators face fines of up to $5,000.

The bill's author, Democratic Assemblyman Alex Padilla of Los Angeles, says cell phones have been used by prisoners throughout the country to plan escapes, communicate with drug smugglers and order acts of violence.

Prison investigators fear cell phones are being used by gang leaders to coordinate uprisings.

The bill now goes to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his approval.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.