Technology blocks cellphones in city jail
WBAL-TV - Online
Gov. Martin O'Malley demonstrated new cellphone blocking technology inside the Baltimore City Detention Center on Friday, showing the latest tool to combat contraband inside the jail.
The facility is now wired with a system that detects and renders useless any cellphone that is not registered with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
"This managed access system, in essence, allows us to monitor the calls coming in, where they are going, where they are going out," O'Malley said.
Columbia-based Tecore Networks developed the technology. The managed access system sets up a frequency umbrella around the jail complex and calls are instantly analyzed. Those from authorized phones or 911 calls go through. Communication from or to a contraband phone do not. It also stops text messages. Contraband phone-to-phone connections are not possible either.
"No interaction between phones or any cellular technology will be allowed with the system we have in place," said Jay Salkini, president and CEO of Tecore Networks.
Cellphones inside the city jail had been instrumental in helping the Black Guerilla Family gang run a criminal enterprise from behind bars. Members used cellphones to direct drug and cellphone smuggling, transfer payments and orchestrate street crimes. They'd tip each other to jail cell searches. One of the gang leaders got female guards pregnant because they even got away with having sex behind bars.
The new technology can detect who is receiving a call on a contraband phone and the number where it came from. Jail officials purchased the software to harvest information stored on confiscated illegal phones.
"(This system) allows us to download anything that's on the cellphone for investigative purposes, so we can down load text messages, contacts, images," said Wendell Pete France, operations regional executive director for the central region for the DPSCS.
Corrections officials claimed not a single contraband cellphone call has been received or made since the system was installed on Dec. 30.
Officials said the system is exceeding expectations, inspiring widespread use throughout the state. Corrections officials said they would like to install the technology in two other city facilities sometime this year.