Over the last two decades, one of the most serious problems to emerge in the U.S. prison system has been the proliferation of contraband cellular devices. While items like simple cell phones may appear to be innocuous to those unfamiliar with the dynamics of the prison system, they are anything but.
Illegal cell phones, when they fall into the hands of powerful and well-organized prison gangs, have the potential to effectively nullify the incarceration process. In other words, give the wrong gang leader a simple Tracfone, and you might as well set him free. These devices give the nation’s most dangerous criminals carte blanche to continue wreaking havoc on the prison system and society as a whole through their nefarious criminal enterprises.
Communication is the most dangerous weapon
One of the dynamics that is important to understand about the structure of U.S. prison gangs is that almost all of the largest and most powerful gangs, including the Aryan Brotherhood, Mexican Mafia and Black Guerrilla Family, at any given time, may have more than half of their total membership located outside of the prison system.
These soldiers, who operate beyond the perimeter marked by armed guards and razor wire, are bound by the convict code and their oaths of loyalty to carry out any order issued from gang leadership. Just as within the ranks of the U.S. Army, failure to follow orders on the part of soldiers can be met with severe punishment.
These outside soldiers will, therefore, follow any order issued from their gang’s shot caller, up to and including committing murder. Unfortunately, contraband cell phones provide a reliable and easy means of communication between gang leadership and foot soldiers on the outside of prison. This line of communication has been used thousands of times to carry out major crimes, which seriously undermine the safety of both the public and the prison system as a whole, while making a mockery of the criminal justice system.
There are hundreds of cases of witnesses being effectively intimidated in cases involving members of prison gangs, causing the district attorneys to drop the charges. In some cases, prison staff have even been murdered, simply for carrying out their job.
Now, Securus Technologies, one of the nation’s leading providers of prison security solutions, has developed an apparatus known as the Wireless Containment System. The system enables officers to successfully shut down 100-percent of illegal calls coming from within prison grounds. It also has a feature that allows for the detection of all cellular devices within the prison, so long as they remain turned on.
Where it has been deployed, the system has had a success rate of nearly 100-percent in eliminating illegal cell phones.