The Iowa Department of Corrections wants the legislature to crack down on cell phones in the state’s prisons. It’s already against Iowa prison policy for an inmate to possess a cell phone, but the department has pre-filed legislation to make it a criminal act. Corrections spokesman Fred Scaletta says the change would bring Iowa in line with other prison systems nationwide.

“Most states around the country already have laws that make a cell phone in prison as illegal contraband,” Scaletta says. “Right now, they are considered contraband but it’s just a policy and rule violation issue.” He says the department wants to avoid problems other states have had with inmates using electronic devices for ongoing criminal activity.

“It has been a problem for some of them and it’s a prevention measure on our part,” he says. “We want it as a deterrent so we can have the process in place so we can follow through with a criminal act.” Since mobile phones have become common, Scaletta says there have been only three instances of reprimands for Iowa prisoners for contraband cell phones.