Cell phones behind bars

Washington

Every year thousands of cell phones are smuggled into prisons all over the country.

Congress is working on a way to make sure the signals can’t get out, but some prison rights advocates want lawmakers to hang up their efforts.

Too often criminal activity doesn’t stop when a convict begins life behind bars.

The FCC reports many smuggle in cell phones that can keep them connected to crime.

Tennessee Congressman David Kustoff is working on legislation with Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton to allow state prisons to do what those at the federal level already can: jam contraband phone signals.

U.S. Rep. David Kustoff said, “It would give jails and prisons the option of using this technology.”

A number of prison rights advocates argue Congress should instead work to keep contraband cell phones out of prison in the first place.

David Fathi is the National Prison Project Director at the American Civil Liberties Union. He says most prisoners depend on contraband cell phones not for crimes, but to call their families. To call home costs prisoners about $10 a minute if they use a prison phone.

David Fathi said, “If we made those phone calls affordable, contraband cell phones would all but disappear.”

The FCC doesn’t currently regulate the cost of those calls, turning its focus to blocking mobile signals.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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