Prisons to Block Smuggled Phones

New Technology will be paid for by private company, no cost to taxpayers

By Kellie White
|  Tuesday, Apr 17, 2012  |  Updated 7:41 AM PDT
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Prisons to Block Smuggled Phones

Devices now full-blown computers, expert says

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California prisons will soon be able to block cell phone signals from inmates using smuggled phones.

The new technology won't cost taxpayers anything. A private company, Global Tel Link, has agreed to foot the multi-million dollar tab to install the phone-blocking system at each of California's 33 state prisons, which could cost anywhere from $16.5 million to $33 million.

The phone-blocking system will not only benefit prison security, it will also help Global Tel Link, which owns the traditional pay phones inside prisons. According to the L.A. Times, company officials are betting that once smuggled cell phones are disabled, demand for pay phones will skyrocket.

The system basically gives each prison its own cell tower, which prison officials will be able to control. They'll make a list of approved cell phones that can be used on the network, and all others will be disabled.

California is battling widespread use of smuggled cell phones by inmates. Many use the phones to keep in touch with family and friends, but they've also been used to plot crimes and intimidate witnesses, according to theTimes.

Last year, California prison guards confiscated more than 15,000 smuggled phones.

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