Patt Morrison for February 4, 2011

Can you hear me now? The strange fight over cell phones in California prisons

Mercer 14574

compujeramey/Flickr

California prison guards are smuggling cellphones into prison for sale to inmates; State Senator Alex Padilla wants to make it illegal to do so

California State Senator Alex Padilla announced yesterday that he will be introducing a bill to criminalize the smuggling of cell phones into prison for use by the prisoners. Over 10,000 cell phones passed through the jailhouse bars in 2010, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Mass murderer Charles Manson got his hands on a cell phone in 2009 that was confiscated, but he managed to upgrade to a camera-phone last year. Padilla and other lawmakers suspect that prison guards act as the distributors of cell phones, and make plenty of money in the process. Each cell phone can fetch as much as $1,000, and one corrections officer made an extra $150,000 in a single year providing the contraband electronics, according to a recent state inspector's report as reported by the Los Angeles Times. The legislation would require searches for prison guards but the prison guard union is opposing the bill, saying that the extra search time will cost millions in overtime pay. Why is it so difficult to keep cell phones out of California’s prisons?

Guests:

Jack Dolan, staff writer covering corrections in the Los Angeles Times Sacramento bureau.

Don Spector, Director of the Prison Law Office, which represents individual prisoners, engages in class action and other impact-litigation, educates the public about prison conditions, and provides technical assistance to attorneys throughout the country.


blog comments powered by Disqus