Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Crime Cellphones News Your Rights Online

Prison Cell Phone Smuggling Out of Control 428

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-else-can-they-play-angry-birds dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "KCRA reports that the number of contraband cell phones discovered in California state prisons has exploded as prison guards, staff and vendors are cashing in on smuggled phones that can fetch between $200 and $800. Although the large majority of inmates are using the phones to stay in contact with loved ones, there have been documented cases of escape attempts, drug deals and conference calls coordinated via smuggled cell phones. 'The potential is there for the worst kind of activity,' says Folsom Prison Warden Rick Hill. Even Charles Manson has been caught with a cellphone smuggled to him. 'We know the problem is out of control,' says State Senator Alex Padilla, who has proposed making such smuggling illegal in hopes of stopping the continued rise of contraband cell phones in prison."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Prison Cell Phone Smuggling Out of Control

Comments Filter:
  • Proposed? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Coy0t3 (62077) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:22AM (#35103630) Homepage

    Wait... does this mean that it's not illegal to smuggle certain things into prisons?

    • Re:Proposed? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:28AM (#35103724)

      Wait... does this mean that it's not illegal to smuggle certain things into prisons?

      They can't keep cell phones and other items too, like drugs out of prisons. Out of PRISONS. Yet we really think we can have a War on (some) Drugs applied to the general population. Idiocy. Unlike a cell phone, drugs have a flexible shape, don't broadcast electromagnetic radiation, and don't have an attached account with somebody's name on it.

      • Re:Proposed? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by nitehawk214 (222219) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:52AM (#35103978)

        Wait... does this mean that it's not illegal to smuggle certain things into prisons?

        They can't keep cell phones and other items too, like drugs out of prisons. Out of PRISONS. Yet we really think we can have a War on (some) Drugs applied to the general population. Idiocy. Unlike a cell phone, drugs have a flexible shape, don't broadcast electromagnetic radiation, and don't have an attached account with somebody's name on it.

        Prisons are designed to keep people in, not keep stuff out.

        • Wait... does this mean that it's not illegal to smuggle certain things into prisons?

          They can't keep cell phones and other items too, like drugs out of prisons. Out of PRISONS. Yet we really think we can have a War on (some) Drugs applied to the general population. Idiocy. Unlike a cell phone, drugs have a flexible shape, don't broadcast electromagnetic radiation, and don't have an attached account with somebody's name on it.

          Prisons are designed to keep people in, not keep stuff out.

          You are, of course, correct. However - the same walls, and tools that keep people IN could be used to keep stuff OUT. Unfortunately, no one has the brass to use the tools at their disposal. To much inconvenience - kinda like Windows users who click through dozens of warnings that opening some attachment will cause their computer to burst into flames, consuming everything within a 100 yard radius.

    • Re:Proposed? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by perpenso (1613749) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:34AM (#35103798)

      Wait... does this mean that it's not illegal to smuggle certain things into prisons?

      In general there are three categories of laws. Infractions, misdemeanors and felonies. At the lower categories the penalty may only be a fine, maybe a relatively small one. Perhaps the legislation is upping the category and/or the penalty.

      • Re:Proposed? (Score:5, Informative)

        by mellon (7048) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:44AM (#35103892) Homepage

        You could RTFA... :)

        It's not illegal to possess cell phones or bring them into California prisons, although it is illegal for federal prisons.

        • You could RTFA... :)

          Huh? I thought I was reading slashdot.

          It's not illegal to possess cell phones or bring them into California prisons, although it is illegal for federal prisons.

          Then how is giving a phone to a prisoner "smuggling"?

        • Why is this even a issue? I can go buy a cell phone jammer from any number of places, and they are nto that expensive. If you really want to keep cell phones out of prisions, just put a jammer in each prison. If the phoes don't work, it really doesn't matter if anyone has them.
          • Re:Idiots (Score:5, Insightful)

            by a-zarkon! (1030790) on Friday February 04, 2011 @12:59PM (#35105300)
            Use a jammer, go to jail. Ironic isn't it. http://wireless.fcc.gov/services/index.htm?job=operations_2&id=cellular [fcc.gov]

            OK so technically you could get a permit, but you have to wonder if prisons are relying on cellular for official communications at this point. It's become so cheap and prevalent - cellular is replacing radio for a lot of field operations comms requirements these days. (No I can't cite anything beyond what I see at my own job where some of the field crews are cellphone only at this point.) Anyway, if that is the case and prisons are using cellular for their own comms - jamming the prisoner comms becomes problematic and probably creates a safety issue for employees.
            • Re:Idiots (Score:4, Insightful)

              by dgatwood (11270) on Friday February 04, 2011 @01:07PM (#35105376) Journal

              That's why they should instead create a few microcells (or a few thousand picocells) that cover the prison grounds, then log everything that passes through those cells just like they do with calls from the phone on the wall.

              This has the advantage of significantly reducing the ability of inmates to use them for harm while not reducing their ability to use them for good (keeping in touch with family, etc.). Also, it's legal and doesn't put the staff at risk.

      • Re:Proposed? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by radtea (464814) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:45AM (#35103910)

        Perhaps the legislation is upping the category and/or the penalty.

        I wonder why they would do that, given the known lack of correlation between the harshness of penalties and the occurence of crimes.

        Texas, for example, has one of the highest murder rates in the US, and also has extremely harsh penalties, including the frequent use of killing convicted murderers.

        North Dakota, in contrast, has one of the lowest murder rates in the US, and has never employed the practice of killing convicted murderers.

        I don't know what the relevant difference is between Texas and North Dakota, but given the murder rates are anti-correlated with the harshness of the penalties it seems unlikely that the two are related at all. There is quite a bit of research to back this notion up, that after a certain point the marginal decline in a criminal behaviour for a marginal increase in penalty decreases, a fact that should come as no suprise to anyone who has been paying attention to ecnomics for, say, the past 200 years. The law of diminishing returns is a pretty fundamental result of human preference functions.

        Now it may be that in the present case there are data to suggest that the point of diminishing returns has not been met with regard to cell phone smuggling in prisons, but the very first question that should be asked of people proposing legal changes of this kind is, "Where are the data to show that this new and harsher law will result in a reduction in the penalized behaviour sufficient to justify the change?"

        • Re:Proposed? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by yodleboy (982200) on Friday February 04, 2011 @11:13AM (#35104194)
          i'd think population and density has something to do with it...

          Population (2009 est)
          Texas - 24,782,302
          North Dakota - 646,844

          Density - Persons per sq mile (2000 est)
          Texas - 79.6
          North Dakota - 9.3

          Dallas has 2x the population of North Dakota. More people, closer together, more chance for crime. Texas also has many more people below the poverty level. src: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/index.html [census.gov]
          • Dallas has 2x the population of North Dakota. More people, closer together, more chance for crime. Texas also has many more people below the poverty level

            Density is almost certainly a factor.

            Poverty level, though - is the poverty the cause of the crime, or crime the cause of the poverty? Or are both the result of a 3rd factor, such as people with poor self-control? A lot of folks assume the first, but the other two seem just as, if not more, likely.

        • by perpenso (1613749)

          Perhaps the legislation is upping the category and/or the penalty.

          I wonder why they would do that, given the known lack of correlation between the harshness of penalties and the occurence of crimes.

          You are misusing statistics. The statistics you quote are for large diverse populations. The sample of the population being targeted here is quite small and it is not random. It is a highly screened segment of the population that has been determined to be "more" law abiding than a random selection. The "sample" being targeted are the guards/staff, a key component in this smuggling.

        • It is obvious that the death penalty is the cause of murders and harsh penalties cause other crimes. /sarcasm

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:23AM (#35103636)

    Why not just install cell phone jammers in all prisons? Is there honestly any "right" to have cell phone signal in the prison?.

    • by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:31AM (#35103758) Homepage

      Cell phone jammers are illegal. Federal law, state law can't override it.

      Granted, the law could be changed (with an exception added for cell phone jammers in jails), but it hasn't happened yet. It might soon, if there's enough of a cry out for it.

      • by Anrego (830717) * on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:43AM (#35103872)

        What about cellphone detectors. I’m sure there is a technology that can detect and triangulate the radiation spewing from those things. And they are probably less illegal than jammers.

        I suspect a lot of the stuff that gets smuggled into prisons comes from or is aided by underpaid prison staff (I really think it’s amazing how little they make considering the risk they take) either directly or indirectly. I don’t see how this kind of stuff could make it in, in the quantities that it does, without at least a little help. Even if you came up with a good technical way to stop the cellphone problem, all it takes is one guard to look the other way, and it’s defeated.

        Then again I’ve never been to prison nor been a corrections officer... so I admit I have no clue how stuff actually works there.

        • My mod points appear to have expired, otherwise you'd be on the recieving end by now. This seems like a fairly good idea. Even if the equipment builders hugely overcharge (And, on a government contract, they will) it's still cheaper than hireing more guards or renovating buildings with EM shielding.
        • by MoonBuggy (611105)

          Detectors definitely sound like a decent idea, although the guards would need to respond quickly enough (and the locator would need to be accurate enough) that the inmate didn't have time to conceal the phone and move away or merge with a group of other prisoners.

          I don’t see how this kind of stuff could make it in, in the quantities that it does, without at least a little help.

          Although I don't doubt that staff are part of the problem, I've heard that the common vector for smuggling is simply throwing stuff over the walls. A good arm or a simple catapult is plenty to get over even a significant fence, it's relatively low

      • They have materials that absorb cell signals. These materials are not illegal as they don't block the signal. http://www.freepatentsonline.com/6479140.html [freepatentsonline.com]
      • Illegal for Joe Public to block signals in public areas perhaps. But not for the Feds to block them in restricted areas.

        Prisons don't tend to be very near private residences so there wouldn't be much issue of blocked area bleeding outside the walls of the prison. And the FCC can issue a waiver for certain cases.

        There isn't any reason they can't do this in a *prison*.
    • by causality (777677) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:33AM (#35103780)

      Why not just install cell phone jammers in all prisons?

      Because that would be a logical, one-shot solution that would end the problem. That's no good for a politician. They want an ongoing issue they can pull out from time to time, whenever they need a distraction. There's little profit for your buddies and political capital for yourself from solving problems; there's lots to be made from prolonging them.

      They'll integrate the prison guards into the DHS and hire thousands more of them to look for cell phones before they'll do something as simple and effective as installing jammers.

    • by TheLink (130905) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:35AM (#35103802) Journal
      Jammers? But that'll make them use other methods of communications which may be harder to tap, intercept or block on demand.

      Why don't they just install cellphone towers specifically for prisons ;). If you do it right, the phones will always use your towers in preference to others.

      If there are pesky laws against this maybe you could get away by having some "fine print" which "informs" the prisoners (who are unlikely to read it) that they are not allowed to use cellphones in the prison, and if they do, the comms may be tapped or even modified as the prison sees fit.

      When opportunity knocks stop complaining about the noise.
      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        Why don't they just install cellphone towers specifically for prisons ;). If you do it right, the phones will always use your towers in preference to others.

        Extending this principle: 1. Give out cell phones to any prisoner who wants one. Secretly configure them to talk only to a special tower you control (not even the guards can know about that part). 2. All calls on those phones will be wiretapped. (prisoners have a lot less 4th Amendment protection than folks out of prison) This solves a couple of problems at once - giving out cell phones dries up the black market and allows those who want to talk to their loved ones, but since you're wiretapping them anyone

  • Great idea! (Score:5, Funny)

    by sudnshok (136477) * on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:23AM (#35103642)

    I'm sure legislation will fix the problem... after all, inmates are in jail because they FOLLOW laws! Politicians are morons.

    • Re:Great idea! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by yincrash (854885) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:26AM (#35103710)
      inmates get cellphones from people who are not in jail. internet commenters are morons.
      • by Abstrackt (609015)
        Do you think people who are not in jail are forcing inmates to take or buy those phones? The inmate has to be a willing party in the process so I think sudnshok's rather clever point still stands.
    • by perpenso (1613749) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:30AM (#35103752)

      I'm sure legislation will fix the problem... after all, inmates are in jail because they FOLLOW laws! Politicians are morons.

      Note that the summary says "prison guards, staff and vendors are cashing in". These suppliers are the weak link and are somewhat likely to respond to the legislation.

      • by radtea (464814)

        Note that the summary says "prison guards, staff and vendors are cashing in". These suppliers are the weak link and are somewhat likely to respond to the legislation.

        Right, so by increasing the penalties you are decreasing the competition, and therefore increasing the profit margins for those willing and able to continue the practice.

        But of course fewer (and richer) smugglers does not in any way imply fewer smuggled cell phones, so it isn't clear why anyone would suggest harsher penalties in this case, other than maybe organized criminals who want to use the law to "persuade" the more casual competition to exit the market.

        Only if you for some reason assume that "few smu

        • by perpenso (1613749)
          Your comparison to the outside world is flawed. The guards/staff are a critical component here, their active participation or looking the other way is key. If they could lose their jobs, generous union benefits, pensions and face incarceration themselves then their active or passive participation is far less likely. The problem would likely move from out of control to under control. Note that under control is not necessarily zero phones.
    • I think the idea is to throw the people (like security guards) who supply inmates with cell phones in jail as well...

    • Re:Great idea! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Hojima (1228978) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:32AM (#35103770)

      Well of course it's not working, we haven't thrown enough money at it. Just like drugs.

      -The legislators

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Darth_brooks (180756)

      Legislation tends to just add a force multiplier to an existing crime. For instance; Drug free school zones don't magically stop drugs from being sold, but they add a nice "and" to the existing charges, which in turn makes it harder to plead down.

      In this case, legislation *is* needed. If I sneak a hundred cell phones into a prison at 800 bucks a pop, my only crime currently would be not declaring the additional $80,000 in income on my taxes. (Sorta like Al Capone. He was never nailed for bootlegging / extor

  • A "problem?" (Score:4, Interesting)

    by crow_t_robot (528562) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:26AM (#35103696)
    If they think that cell phones are a problem, they need to consider this situation carefully. Most/all cellphones are much larger than say a balloon filled with heroin. If they think that a cellphone is a "problem" and smuggling in a handheld device is easy, I wonder what they think of the drug situation. Also, the profit margin on bringing in a walnut-sized heroin balloon is orders of magnitude more profitable.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Most/all cellphones are much larger than say a balloon

      You must have had a terrible childhood!

    • Re:A "problem?" (Score:5, Informative)

      by MaggieL (10193) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:36AM (#35103814)

      A guard caught with a cell phone gets administrative punishment under union rules. A guard caught with drugs goes down for a felony and loses his job.

    • Re:A "problem?" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:57AM (#35104020)

      the real problem, actually, is that the existing, legal phone system inside armerica's prisons is grossly corrupt. prison phone system providers are given a monopoly, charge exorbitant rates (a 630% markup over normal residential prices) and then actually kickback money to prison officials and politicians to keep their sweet contracts (57.5% of profits to the state of new york, for example).

      my source for these numbers is here [northcountrygazette.org]

      add to that the fact that even if an inmate can get a prison job, the wages are usually in the dollar-or-less per hour range, sometimes as low as 20c/hr, and you have a situation where the legal phone system is financially unusable. the result is that the economic impulse to get a black market cellphone -- even a $200 one -- is strong.

      if america really wanted to stop black market cellphones, they'd cancel verizon's prison phone contract and offer reasonably-priced access to phone systems to inmates.

      my source for the prison wages info is: here [digitaljournal.com]

    • I think the penalty for a cellphone is a tad different than for the heroin.
    • What I want to know is, how is it that criminals have no problems smuggling whatever they want into prison, when good law abiding citizens can't take a fucking pair of nail clippers on an airplane without the swat team coming out?
  • OR (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MadUndergrad (950779) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:26AM (#35103704)

    Or.... don't let the signal from the towers penetrate to the prison? Surely the guards can do without when they're on duty?

  • How about installing some 'regular' phones that inmates can use, but monitor all calls? "Hi honey, I miss, how're the kids?" calls are ignored/allowed, but "I need you to go WHACK that bitch!" calls result in punishment...
    • by kieran (20691)

      Because people are capable of talking in code, or just being subtle.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:39AM (#35103836)
      Prisons have regular phones, that they charge exorbitant rates to use. This is about protecting a monopoly and gouging a segment of the population that nobody gives a damn about.
    • How about installing some 'regular' phones that inmates can use, but monitor all calls?

      That sounds very expensive, as in you have to hire people to listen to the calls and other people to double check or at least spot check the first group. Also, if a lifer does call someone and tell his buddies to kill someone, what are you going to do to them? So you can't give everyone access, but then you still have the worst of the cell phone problem having eliminated it only for those people who would normally not be a real problem.

      • by r00t (33219)

        Also, if a lifer does call someone and tell his buddies to kill someone, what are you going to do to them?

        Death penalty, obviously.

        This would mean more if we had the balls to do it old-style of course. (stoning, flaying, crucification, burning, etc.)

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)
      Because "honey, I miss you, kiss little Suzy for me." could mean "Green light to kill Suzy"
  • This again? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kieran (20691)

    Install jammers (probably with a whitelist of allowed phones) or STFU.

    • by radtea (464814)

      Install jammers (probably with a whitelist of allowed phones) or STFU.

      But that would prevent criminal gangs from maximizing their smuggling profits after the casual competition is eliminated! You have to ask who benefits from a proposed legal change, and in this case it is obvious the only beneficiaries are the criminal organizations who will be willing and able to take the risk of continued smuggling.

      The volume of smuggling will not change, but the number of smugglers will go down, increasing the profitability of the remaining smugglers by a great deal.

      Installing jammers wo

    • Just write legislation saying all cellphone signals to or from prisons are monitored. The legal precedent is easy: all prison mail is subject to inspection. Then you can not only catch idiots ordering hits or whatever, you can profile the guy behind bars: his contacts and associates. Useful information if he is a recidivist. Why jam useful criminal information?

      It's the same problem with cracking down in child pornography: it doesn't actually stop it. Instead, let it flow freely. And now you have easy way to

  • by Darth_brooks (180756) <clipper377@@@gmail...com> on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:36AM (#35103806) Homepage

    "there have been documented cases of escape attempts, drug deals and conference calls coordinated via smuggled cell phones."

    Not conference calls! Anything but that! Isn't it bad enough that they're in jail? Now they're being subjected to conference calls. That is surely a violation of an inmate's rights against cruel and unusual punishment.

  • by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:38AM (#35103824) Homepage

    Stop screwing prisoners who try to use the prison phone to contact loved ones.

    Prisons have been seeing their phones as a profit center lately, charging a dollar per minute or more to contact loved ones. And loved ones can't call the prisoner -- the prisoner has to make the call. And often they can't call cell phones, only land lines -- but not everybody has a land line any more.

    Make the prices more reasonable, drop the "no cell phones" thing, and have some way for people to call the prisoners (or at least tell them to call home beyond sending them a letter) and the demand for cell phones will drop.

    Beyond that, simply get a scanner that detects the frequencies used by cell phones, install a few of them around the prison, and when they go off if the system is properly designed it could tell a guard immediately and tell them approximately where the phone is in the jail.

    • by the_olo (160789) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:56AM (#35104012) Homepage

      Better yet, make the prison a non-GSM zone, deinstalling BTS-es and/or screening/jamming the radio signals. Make the staff and inmates use landlines for phone communication.

    • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:58AM (#35104032) Homepage
      I used to work for a telephone company, calling people who had rang up too many charges. Half the time, the recipient was grateful to be blocked, as her husband/boyfriend in prison called her incessantly, as well as racked up hundreds of dollars in collect telephone call fees.
    • by NoSig (1919688) on Friday February 04, 2011 @11:02AM (#35104064)
      That. If prison is "we'll take your social circle and replace them with all these other criminals and you don't get to have any contact with the people you knew", then we shouldn't be surprised when people exit prison as hardened and more-proficient criminals than when they entered.
    • I will second the above. At first blush people will say too bad, we're punishing the prisoners. But in reality, who is being punished? The family and friends of the prisoner/detainee. It is they who must pay $9 for a 15 minute collect call. It is they who must pay a $10 'service fee' to put up to (but not exceeding) $50 on a prepaid account via TouchPay for use on the Global Telink phone system. It is, for all intents, robbery. Prisons can limit the frequency and duration of phone calls - there is no need t
  • Deregulation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:38AM (#35103830)

    A thought:

    Stop making it difficult and expensive for inmates to make regular phone calls. Then the only people left wanting cell phones will be those who want it for criminal activities, which will make your investigations more effective (even if they are successful less often).

    In addition, though I'm no economist, I have to wonder if that wouldn't cause the remaining cell phone prices to go up, hopefully out of the accessibility range of at least a few people who would use them for criminal purposes (discounting the idea that contacting your family in a manner not approved by the prison might be illegal).

    That's the part I care about. Now, the rant:

    As someone living in the U.S., I think we need a dialogue on what we believe prison should be *for*, especially if there's some data to back up various methods in light of our desired goals. For example, we know that there is a high rate of re-offence among people who have been in prison. How does restricting contact among family and friends affect that? Does it prevent the inmate from seeking connections anywhere but among fellow criminals? Does having access raise people's sense of injustice and make them more likely to re-offend? Is there an interaction between this and some other social factor?

    This dialogue needs to extend to treatment of prisoners. What do we really want the outcome to be? Is it overall better for our society to focus on discouraging people to go to prison, rehabilitation once they are there, or a combination (and in what proportions?).

    Perhaps most importantly, the dialogue needs to contain the topic of whether the current system is working, and if the outcomes we get are on par with our desires and what we see in other countries.

    m!

    • Re:Deregulation (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Entropius (188861) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:51AM (#35103962)

      Your rant is spot on. Unfortunately, shouting about being "tough on crime" leads to getting elected, which leads to the "lock them in jail and make jail Hell on Earth" attitude.

      Of course, that does nothing to actually rehabilitate criminals or actually reduce crime -- it just makes you look good come election time. Combine that with a prison system that mostly exists to increase its own profits (q.v. Arizona SB1070) and you've got a recipe for disaster.

      • by HBI (604924)

        If the death penalty was executed (heh heh) in a reasonable timeframe - ie, without a gazillion appeals and stays, then you'd probably find conservatives more willing to discuss lightening up on prison treatment.

        It's a Gordian knot - as long as the ACLU and the Left keep fucking up the system to protest the death penalty, you'll get no progress on this front.

        • by Entropius (188861)

          What's the death penalty have to do with anything? Red herring alert.

          Advocating replacing all sentences of execution with sentences of life in prison has nothing at all to do with the course of imprisonment for the vast majority of inmates. It certainly has nothing at all to do with rehabilitation, since by definition we have given up on rehabilitation of people who are executed or imprisoned for life.

        • Re:Deregulation (Score:5, Informative)

          by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday February 04, 2011 @11:55AM (#35104608)

          If the death penalty was executed (heh heh) in a reasonable timeframe - ie, without a gazillion appeals and stays, then you'd probably find conservatives more willing to discuss lightening up on prison treatment.

          The death penalty is idiotic. First, it simply doesn't work as an effective deterrent to crime as numerous studies have shown. People are too stupidly optimistic so the death penalty results in increased rates of murder and violent crime because stupidly optimistic criminals suddenly believe they have nothing to lose by trying to shoot their way out of bad situations and kill anyone who could be a witness. Second, while from a "justice" standpoint and a "cost effective" standpoint it could be supported, that assumes out legal system is actually effective at convicting the right person and that is clearly not the case. When fingerprints came into general use by law enforcement, we were able to show many people had been wrongly convicted including a significant number of supposed murderers. When DNA testing became affordable, again, dozens of convicted murderers, some on death row, some already executed are proved innocent. Why then would any reasonable person assume that our criminal justice system in general is not regularly convicting a significant number of innocent people? You think it is okay then, to kill those people knowing that later on they may be proved innocent?

          If the police and lawyers and forensic scientists in our criminal justice system were honest and obeyed the law and proper procedure in obtaining convictions, then maybe we could implement the death penalty in a just fashion, but the truth is, we regularly convict innocent people because the system is designed to reward convictions and not punish convictions of the innocent. Hell, groups like the Innocence Project are fighting the courts for the right to test the DNA of convicted persons. Why would anyone interested in justice oppose more accurate forensic investigation of serious crime? Now that DNA evidence is a known quantity, it is certainly fabricated or falsified just like fingerprints were and we will have to wait for the next disruptive forensic technology the police don't know about yet to exonerate those innocent people in prison more recently. With such a broken legal system, I find it dishonorable and unjust to advocate for the death penalty. Doing so is quite clearly advocating for the murder of innocent people convicted by corrupt or simply lazy law enforcement.

    • Re:Deregulation (Score:4, Informative)

      by RogerWilco (99615) on Friday February 04, 2011 @11:05AM (#35104106) Homepage Journal

      You are correct.

      The USA has by far the highest percentage of it's population in prison, the longest and toughest penalties (Including the death penalty!) of anywhere in the civilized world.

      It also has some of the highest crime and murder rates in the world.

      But statistics doesn't get you votes.

    • Look, this isn't a problem in Russia. There is a very low recidivism rate because people actually fear going back to prison. Our prisons are just comfy free room and board by comparison.

      Russian prison guards beat the prisoners, often for no serious reason. For example, a new guard gets a job and all the prisoners get beaten as a way of introducing the new guard. Russian prisons are thousands of miles from home out in Siberia, despite legislation to the contrary. Russian guards assign some prisoners the job

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:39AM (#35103838) Journal
    I think the government should not try to stop these smuggled cell phones. Instead it should set up a cell tower and capture all communications. Phones registered to prison guards and verified may be exempted from this surveillance. Knowing how dumb criminals are, we are sure to gather tons of incriminating evidence even if they know they are being monitored.
    • The problem is, what happens if someone else (not a prisoner, not a guard) is near the facility and their phone starts communicating with the prison's tower? Monitoring their conversation would be an inadvertent violation of their rights. There would be a great potential for liability, right down to the point where people would *try* to make this happen just so they could sue.

      • by NoSig (1919688)
        Post signs saying "phone conversations not allowed near prison." After that, the situation is much like a suspects friend borrowing his tapped phone to make an unrelated personal call - it'll be picked up and that's the way it goes. It should be deleted and be in-admissible for any unrelated case.
      • A few sensors, some triangulation... could easily locate a phone with sub-meter precision to determine if it's inside prison walls or not. Expensive, though.
  • First they take away my Dungeons and Dragons and now it's my Cellphone. What next discourage urban exploration on prison grounds?
  • doesn't everyone remember how the cellphone companies were able to locate cellphones in the rubble of 9/11, even while they were turned off? Maybe bring some of that tech into play?
  • This cries out for prisons setting up open source GSM cells [makezine.com].

    Now to find a CDMA solution. That, they may have to rely on the commercial manufacturers, but with a bit of work and some money, prisons could run their own cell networks and if nothing else listen in on the inmates' plans. Could be worse. Actually, it IS worse.

    We can't seem to keep them out of the prisons, so just subvert them. I know this continues a war of escalation, but that's inevitable.

  • Simply set up directional cellphone jammers around the facility? let the criminals have their phones , they wont work.

    Or set up a pair of cellular towers like they do at big arenas, suddenly you are on XYZ network roaming where all calls get routed to the prison operator..

    Prisoner 167.... bring me that phone.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.

Working...