For the past several years corrections officers across the United States have faced an increasing amount of contraband being smuggled into the nation’s prisons. Not surprisingly, the smuggling of technology is on the rise, with cellphone smuggling being particularly pervasive. Criminals behind bars often use the phones not only to contact loved ones, but also to arrange drug deals, extort rivals, and even arrange murders. After a recent situation in which a prisoner plotted the kidnapping of a state official’s father, corrections officers across the country have become aware of the true dangers of cell phones in the hands of prisoners.
In mid-April a high ranking member of a North Carolina street gang used a smuggled cellphone to order his subordinates to kidnap the father of one of the state’s district attorneys. After several days in custody, the district attorney’s father was rescued successfully, unharmed. But, the case highlights the growing concern among corrections officials relating to the number of cell phones being smuggled into prisons and jails across the country. Officials in North Carolina believe that the cell phone used to plot the crime, one of over 700 cell phones discovered by corrections officers in the state this year, was probably smuggled into the prison by employees in exchange for bribes.
Just days after the North Carolina plot unfolded, a Washington, D.C. corrections officer was charged with smuggling a cell phone to a prison inmate. These instances mark a trend in which prisoners are often able to obtain cell phones through the very same corrections officers who are tasked with preventing the contraband from entering the prison in the first place. Some have recommended using technology to jam cell phone signals inside of prisons. While this technological solution to the problem may or may not put an end to cell phone use in prisons, it is unlikely to address the core issue, which is that certain prison employees, including corrections officers, have been proven to be susceptible to bribes.