DPSCS Secretary Gary Maynard Participates in FCC Conference On Cell Phone Interdiction Issue

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Towson, MD (October 1, 2010)---Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) Secretary Gary Maynard, a leading voice calling for improved technology and other resources in the battle against contraband cell phones in prison, participated in a landmark web-based workshop with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Currently, FCC rules prohibit the “jamming” of cell phone signals inside prisons; Secretary Maynard has been a major advocate of changing that law, as well as adding other technological solutions---such as so-called “managed access” of cell signals--- to the toolbox to combat the recent influx of cell phones behind bars.

“While correctional administrators may not always agree with the FCC, we appreciate the efforts of the FCC to educate and inform our members on the available technologies that can be utilized to try to mitigate the harm caused by the use of cell phones in our prisons,” said Secretary Maynard. “And we appreciate the FCC’s recent support for testing and implementation of managed access. Managed access is not the end-all solution to this problem, and we need to work to bring all technologies – including jamming – on line to solve this problem.”

In addition to Secretary Maynard and the chief of technology for the FCC, today’s workshop featured top correctional administrators; the National Telecommunications and Information Administration; the National Institute of Justice; and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Under the O’Malley Administration, DPSCS became the first state in the nation to train and utilize cell phone detector dogs; invested $1.1 million in contraband-detecting prison entrance technology and “BOSS” chairs; and held groundbreaking demonstrations at a prison to look at different vendors’ technologies for intercepting or interrupting illegal cell phone signals.

The result of these efforts has been a sharp reduction recently in the number of cell phones being located inside prisons, indicating that fewer are finding their way in; and a corresponding reduction in serious assaults on staff: a 50% decrease since FY ’07, when targeting illegal cell phones became a national priority. DPSCS currently has an RFP on the street for vendors to submit their detection/jamming technologies.

Secretary Maynard reminded the FCC and panel participants today why keeping phones out of the hands of inmates is so difficult. “Phones are smuggled on or within an inmate’s body, by staff or visitors, tossed over the fences or walls, concealed within deliveries or shipments of food and supplies, or through contractors. While there is no single solution to this problem, we need as much technology as possible to combat what has become a life-threatening problem.”

In addition to technology enhancement, DPSCS has been a leader in assigning detectives to specifically help prosecute cases involving illegal cell phone possession; increasing gang intelligence efforts; and establishing a forensic lab for analysis.

Cell phone confiscations in Maryland state prisons peaked with 1,658 cell phones located in FY ’07. In FY 10, DPSCS located 1,128 phones inside prisons, and the number of phones found outside (which did not make their way into the hands of inmates) increased by 36%.

To view an archive of this webinar visit: http://reboot.fcc.gov/video-archives and click on Workshop on Contraband Cell Phone Use In Prisons.