Proposed California law to ban cell phones in prisons dropped because it’s too expensive

The state of California has lots of problems, and while the prisoners in their jails enjoying illegal access to mobile phones is a cause for concern, the ever increasing debt gets priority. Plans to pass a law that would make it illegal to smuggle a mobile phone inside a prison or for a prisoner to own a mobile phone have been canceled since the state would rather have criminals out on the street sooner than keep them locked in for an extra few months if they get caught trying to contact the outside world; it costs the state $50,000 per year to keep just 1 inmate in jail. Deputy Corrections Director Richard Subia says prison staff confiscated 11,000 cell phones from inmates last year. “We’ve found them in walls, put down inside of walls, inside of toilets, in peanut butter, in garlic … you’d be surprised,” he said, later adding: “We had an officer that we stopped in one of our Northern California prisons who said he made $100,000 one year for bringing in cell phones.”

The solution would of course be to let prisoners own their own cell phones that they could pay off would money earned from doing hard labor. Their calls would be recorded, and anyone caught trying to arrange a drug deal or getting someone whacked would have their prison sentence increased, while those who are just trying to keep a relationship going with their loved ones can enjoy hearing someone’s voice versus exchanging letters. That or get cell phone jammers in place, which might anger operators, and the FCC, but it’s cheap. Prison guards wouldn’t be able to use their mobiles at work, but it’s a small price to pay. They can use landlines instead.

What do you think, how should jails deal with inmates using mobile phones while incarcerated?

[Via: South California Public Radio]

  • Donald

    You’ve been reading this shit for 20 years. Get out on the streets and get things done.

  • Anonymous

    The Prison-Industrial complex is modern day slavery.

  • Detox702

    I don’t agree with cell phone jammers in principle. I’ve never worked or been incarcerated in a prison, but it seems like too much of a risk. Someone can cut phone lines and however redundant they may be the phones can be disabled. Someone can’t cut the air. Cell phones are almost a guaranteed safety phone. 

    • Orly

      Unless whoever cuts the landlines also brings cellphone jammers, then they ‘cut the air’ too.

  • william c wesley

    Get rid of the idea of punishing people because if anyone deserves punishment its the people who are metting it out.. Prison should be used to protect the public from preditory people, not to punish.. We store dangerouse chemicals in sealed containers to protect the public, not to punish the chemicals, the same with prison. No more Marijuana sellers or song downloaders, a lot more rip off bankers and wall street insiders though, more corrupt legislaters, and black op murderes.They should no longer have the option of luxury resort prisons with pools and butlers, let THEM do without humain treatment and watch just how fast we see reform come in. 

  • BrianC

    I think it is hilarious that this is even an issue.  The general issue of the “Correctional System” in the U.S. is that it does not “correct” anything with few exceptions.  In addition, this country is supposedly the “land of the free” but in my short life of 35 years, I am less free than when I was younger and I see more laws passed that make us all less free.  Wake up, people! In order to be free one must accept responsibility.  When you pass that responsibility on to the government your freedoms are taken away. The government is becoming your Babysitter more and more.  Inch by inch the life on the outside of prisons is looking a bit more like life inside of prisons; ‘can’t talk on cell phone in prison’ is not too far from ‘can’t talk on cell phone in your car’.  (note: personally, I think one should not talk on the phone while driving (most of the time). I will never agree to have it be illegal to talk on your phone in the car.  I will agree that if you are a danger to others because of talking on the phone while driving you should be issued a citation.)

  • Only lock up violent offenders, not drug users or addicts and then jam the signals but I don’t care if a pot head who’s locked up unjustly for 18 months calls his wife and kids, matter of fact, I’d give him a cell so he could.

  • Asha

    $50,000.  A year at UCSF definitely costs less than that!

    I understand prisons are as much punitive as they are reformatory (sadly, probably more the former than the latter for the adult system), but imagine what kind of societal progress we could achieve if our prisons were something like universities.

    • Somewhere

      You end up with very smart criminals, i don’t think society is going to better off with more  Bernie Maddofs.

      • SantaClaus

        Yes but shouldn’t the goal of prisons be improving it’s inamtes? By that I mean that currently someone who goes to prison (in the US) most likely ends up commiting even more crimes afterwards. There are few to no “born criminals” most have there problems (psychological or prartical) and if we can help solving these we would have better members in our society and they wouldn’t be smart criminals but smart honest workers.

  • pedagogo

    I feel like I’m swimming in a lake of naivete.

    The thing that I like about Reddit is it’s creativity. You get all these thousands of people each adding their two cents in their own unique, creative, funny way. Now imagine if all of you used Reddit to figure out how to commit the crimes of your choice together each adding his own special knowledge to further the crimes in better and better ways, harder for the cops to figure out, more and more lucrative. That’s what prison is like.

    Most of you reading this  right now have decided to follow society’s rules. Not only the ethical and social norms but the bigger rules, the ones where society says “if you do this you can’t live among us anymore for a while” “If you cross this line, we have to lock you up for years so you can’t hurt the rest of us”.

    Ask a cop what he thinks of cell phones in prison because he has to deal with that small segment of society who has decided they don’t have to follow the rules society has laid down- the career criminals. Cops pick a guy up and put him in jail. The next year they put him in jail again. and the next year again. and they find out that some people are just bad to the bone. Luckily most of you don’t have to live with career criminals but if you did you’d find out that some people just don’t care about following the rules. some of them are smarter than you and me, better educated than you and me and if they just put in 50 weeks of 8 hour days would be farther ahead than you and me. But no matter how many breaks you give them, they always seem to go back to doing things the illegal way. Cell phones are freedom. Prisons are for the people who for whatever reason have decided they don’t have to follow the rules.  Break the rules, lose your freedom. societies that are so stupid as to continuously give bad people freedoms they don’t deserve get screwed over and over.   

  • Anon

    Just put up cellular jammers in the prison. It’s a prison. Excepting the fact that americans enjoy locking up every black or brown person and most whites as well for ridiculous non-crimes and falsehoods, once they’re in there for a crime playing on cell phones should not be an option. Jammers are cheap, and if used in limited areas across the jail they’d work great.

  • Angry

    1/3 of convicted violent felons in the US aren’t even citizens.

    In some states it exceeds 2/3.

    But Chinamart and McDogfood want to keep wages down and to do that they need quasi-slave labor, so the borders stay open while the police chase kids who download music that’s played on the radio for free.

    16 million unemployed?  There’s 20 million illegals.  Do the math.

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