The use of cell phones to perpetrate assaults and murders by inmates in Florida and Texas prisons came as somewhat of a shock to me. One is aware that a lively trade in contraband exists in all prisons. The extent of the cell phone problem was extreme according to two news reports.
The thing that really brought the problem home was the fact that a nine-month old baby named Kendarius Edwards Jr. was murdered at the behest of three men who were in prison. They used a phone to arrange the hit because the child’s uncle did something that the men did not like.
An August 14, 2017, report from PR Newswire explained that an inmate at Evans Correctional Institution in Dallas, Texas named Jose Ariel Rivera published a three and one-half minute video of himself brandishing a homemade knife on Facebook Live. The film was shot by another inmate with a contraband cell phone. Rivera is serving a 10 year sentence for burglary and has been previously caught with a contraband cell phone.
A November 6, 2017, video from NBC 6 in Miami, Florida chronicles the near death encounter that former South Carolina corrections officer Captain Robert Johnson experienced due to a contraband cell phone. An inmate with a grudge against Johnson arranged a hit. The perpetrator broke into Johnson’s home in the middle of the night and shot him six times. Johnson miraculously survived. The reason for the hit was that Johnson had found an illegal cell phone.
Johnson recovered and became more determined than ever to eliminate this threat. He allied himself and his experience with Securus Technologies. The company provides technology solutions to criminal and civil authorities in over 3,000 municipalities in North America.
The phones in prisons problem in the United States is large. More than 8,300 phones have been smuggled into prisons in the last year and one-half. People bring phones into prisons. Drones have been used to deliver contraband phones.
The solution that worked in Florida and Dallas prisons was developed by a division of Securus Technologies called Wireless Containment Solutions. The technology is basically the same as a cell phone tower. The system detects illegal phones and prevents them from connecting with the network.
Johnson and Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Securus Technologies Rick Smith see this method as a safer and more efficient means of dealing with illegal phones in prisons than searching cells and prisoners. The system will prevent retaliation because there is no known person to retaliate against.
Securus Technologies has received assistance from the FCC. The FCC allowed the use of this technology in prisons and required phone carriers to work with the prisons.
Securus Technologies first year of operation in eight U. S. prisons prevented 1.7 million illegal phone call attempts.
The idea here is to contact your local and state legislators so that this technology can be incorporated into your state’s prison system. The cost equation is the value of one life versus the cost of technology that prevents a killing.