Hundreds of cellular phones are being seized every year from inside America’s federal prisons.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says while there are already rules against smuggling cell phones to inmates, those rules apparently aren’t being enforced, and convicts are continuing their lives of crime from the inside their prison cells — using cell phones. Grassley says cell phones should be banned from federal prisons.
“Oddly enough, there are some rules or regulations that would say that they aren’t, and regulations ought to have the force of law if they’re based upon the law,” Grassley says.
Grassley is introducing legislation that would clearly spell out that cell phones and other wireless devices are contraband and they’re barred from being used or possessed within federal prisons.
“We need to put a big stamp of disapproval on cell phones being smuggled into prisons,” Grassley says, “because people that’re in prison direct additional crime from inside.”
Cell phones found in federal prisons are not specifically defined as contraband and as a result, Grassley says guards and inmates found with cell phones are rarely punished. Grassley says there are indications the current rules aren’t being enforced so it needs to be made law so it’s clear to everyone in prison and to those on the outside who might be considering smuggling a phone to an inmate.
Under Grassley’s bill, anyone who provides, or attempts to provide, an inmate with a cell phone faces up to one year in prison. Last year, federal prison workers confiscated more than 1500 cell phones from federal prison camps and more than 250 cell phones from secure federal institutions. This year, authorities have discovered more than four-thousand cell phones among inmates in California prisons. In May, a report found California prison inmates pay $500 to $1,000 per cell phone. The report noted, one corrupt correctional officer received nearly $150,000 in one year to smuggle cell phones to inmates.