Prison Cell Phone Crackdown is Working
07/29/2010
WJZ-TV

View Clip

Fewer phones are finding their way inside state prisons, and officials say that's leading to less crime both in and outside prison walls.

Andrea Fujii explains stopping the phones before they even get in is the key.

Cell phone sniffing dogs are one tool the Division of Correction uses in confiscating cell phones in prison.

"The proliferation of cell phones increases chances for prison violence fueled by illegal activity," said Gary Maynard, Secretary, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Many cell phones are found on prisoners. This year the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services confiscated 32 percent fewer cell phones. They say that means their battle to prohibit them from getting in is working.

"While we are doing much better at interdicting contraband than we were just a few years ago, it is unlikely we will ever completely eliminate the cell phone threat," said Maynard.

And the threats are real. In 2007, inmate Patrick Byers ordered the murder of a witness against him, Carl Lackl, 38. The hit was orchestrated by cell phone.

Since then, the Division of Correction has spent more than $1 million to beef up security through technology and intelligence.

"We respond to that through searches and moves of inmates, that helps us control the contraband," said Mike Stouffer, Division of Correction Commissioner.

Officials also attribute phone confiscation to fewer staff assaults by prisoners, down 30 percent from last year.

It's an increased effort to keep inmates from having any connection to the outside world.

The Federal Communications Commission currently prohibits states from jamming cell phone signals in prison.

The Maryland Division of Correction's commissioner has testified before Congress to try and change that.