Deliverance of safe and efficient incarceration services is the biggest challenge of prison authorities in the history. When the technology, especially communication technology, started traveling an extra-mile post-2000s, it gave new challenges to the correction agencies. Contraband cell phones are creating biggest threat to prison security and safety in the recent years. The experience of Robert Johnson, an ex-corrections officer at Lee Correctional Institution located in South Carolina, showcases the threats associated with the flaws of prison safety solutions. Johnson was facing a deadly attack at his home for confiscating a contraband package.
The inmates were contacting an ex-convict using a contraband phone to target Johnson, which later proved the inability of prison authorities to restrict such phones that can claim the lives of their own officials. There are many similar incidents in the past where the prison officials or their family members were being targeted by the inmates and their associated gangs operating outside. All of their communications go through contraband phones – the biggest threat to prison security and safety. Johnson even testified in front of the Federal Communications Commissions and explained the process of controlling such contraband phones that are taking lives.
Since there is a national law that prohibits jamming or blocking signals, states like Florida are using technology that offers selective options according to the prison needs. Interestingly, Johnson is a paid consultant to Securus Technologies, the leading prison technology provider who enabled Florida to choose paid call options for inmates in the state. It uses a Wireless Containment System or WCS to restrict contraband cell phones. A spokesperson for Securus confirmed that its solution is working in the line of establishing a specific cell phone network. Regardless of the carriers, only known numbers are permitted to connect, and others are blocked.
The company even shared a video in July 2017 to show the vulnerability of the prison security with respect to contraband cell phones. It was a Facebook Live by an inmate using a contraband cell phone. It is already proved that such flaws are effectively controlled by the WCS technology of the Securus. Interestingly, in March 2017, FCC has approved the streamline of correctional facilities that help them to use contraband interdiction technology like WCS with reduced paperwork and other formalities with different carriers, said Rick Smith, the Chief Executive of Securus.
With the improved process of regulations, more people started demanding the elected officials to take steps to curtail the inmates from the use of contraband phones, said a corrections officer in South Carolina. Interestingly, Securus even published the data that displays the efficiency of the WCS technology, and the technology blocked nearly 1.7 million unauthorized phone calls during the period July 2016 to July 2017, from just eight correctional centers in the United States.