Jamming cell phones in prisons being discussed nationwide, SCDC director already a fan

    Cell phones (File/WCIV)

    It could be a turning point in the fight against prison contraband.

    Engineers from the wireless industry completed tests on how to block cell phone signals behind prison walls and that study is being presented to corrections officials across the United States.

    Right now, corrections officials are in New Orleans for their annual meeting.

    Top level state officials are hearing for the first time if managed access and jamming cell phone technologies are effective in prison safety and worth spending millions of taxpayers’ dollars.

    Corrections officials across the country, including SCDC Director Bryan Stirling, just heard about those findings and he says he is very encouraged.

    “It’s a giant piece of the puzzle. Those phones help them (prisoners) continue their criminal ways behind bars as we’ve seen in the arrests in the last months,” says Stirling.

    It is the culmination of a concerted effort to block contraband cell signals after the deadly Lee prison riots nine months ago.

    South Carolina Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling blamed access to technology as the main instigator for that violence.

    He waged a war against contraband cell phones. In an unprecedented show of cooperation, the wireless industry and state corrections officials from across the United States agreed to test managed access and jamming systems in prisons. Managed access only denies cell phone access to select users, while jamming totally blocks cell phones.

    Stirling has lobbied hard for jamming.

    Here's what we've learned so far about the meeting:

    In a joint statement from the Wireless Industry Association and the Association of State Correctional Administrators:

    "We continue to be encouraged by the collaboration between corrections officials and the wireless industry to address this important issue.”

    The wireless industry findings will not be officially released for a few weeks.

    Prison officials in South Carolina say they will use managed access technology in tandem with drone detection surveillance, netting and new body scanners at points of entry in the prisons.

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