Cellphone Jamming System Tested at Maryland Prison - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Cellphone Jamming System Tested at Maryland Prison

Posted: Jan 17, 2018 3:44 PM Updated:

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP)- Federal prisons officials on Wednesday tested a jamming technology inside the walls of a federal prison, a rare move move that authorities said they hope will help combat the danger posed by inmates with cellphones.

The test was conducted over several hours Wednesday morning at a federal prison in Cumberland, Maryland, Assistant Attorney General Beth Williams told The Associated Press as the testing took place. Williams didn't give specifics of how the test worked but said it marks a step in the fight to cut down on inmates' ability to communicate unsupervised and carry on with criminal efforts.

Similar tests occurred in 2010, but Williams said Wednesday's effort was significant because jamming technology has evolved, as have inmates' efforts to smuggle in the devices. Such tests, she said, could lead to the broader use of technologies like jamming inside prisons to render useless inmate phones, which officials across the country have described as their No. 1 security threat.

"Today is a big step, and the reason really is that, as criminals increase their capacity to commit crimes behind bars, we have to increase our capacity to stop them," Williams told AP.

The renewed interest in jamming within federal facilities follows an announcement by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who told a national meeting of corrections officials that federal prisons would start testing the technology anew.

"That is a major safety issue," he said in his speech. "Cellphones are used to run criminal enterprises, facilitate the commission of violent crimes and thwart law enforcement."

The federal Bureau of Prisons, which houses 185,000 inmates, confiscated over 5,000 cellphones from inmates in 2016, Williams said, and preliminary figures show that number rose last year.

For years, officials in state and federal prisons have spoken out about the dangers posed by cellphones in the hands of inmates, who can use them to continue their criminal endeavors behind bars, including drug trafficking, extortion scams, and even hits on witnesses and others. Last year, South Carolina Corrections Director Bryan Stirling testified at an Federal Communications Commission hearing in Washington alongside a former South Carolina corrections officer who was nearly killed in 2010 by a hit orchestrated by an inmate using an illegal phone.

In July, an inmate was able to escape from a maximum-security prison in South Carolina, thanks in part to a smuggled cellphone. Jimmy Causey was recaptured three days later in Texas.

A decades-old law says federal officials can grant permission to jam the public airwaves only to federal agencies, not state or local agencies. Telecommunications companies are opposed, saying jamming cell signals could set a bad precedent and interfere with legal cell users nearby.

Stirling, an outspoken advocate for some sort of technology to combat phones within prisons, wrote in June to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, beseeching the top prosecutor for help pursuing FCC permission to jam cell signals of the phones, which are thrown over fences, smuggled by rogue employees and even delivered by drone.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster also lobbied, writing Sessions an August memo on the dangers of prison cellphones and thanking him for any help he could provide. That month, Williams also weighed in, writing in a letter to FCC officials that addressing the security threat posed by contraband cellphones "should be a chief priority" of both the Commission and Justice.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has signaled willingness to work on the issue, telling members of Congress he would put together a working group to address "the proliferation of contraband wireless devices in prisons and the potentially devastating implications for public safety."

Williams said Justice, which oversees the Bureau of Prisons, was optimistic Pai and others at the FCC grasp the need for a way to fight the use of illegal cellphones.

"It's my understanding that Chairman Pai really understands the threat here," Williams told AP. "We need to do everything possible to prevent the threat from these phones being used."

  • Delmarvawide NewsDelmarvawide NewsMore>>

  • DSP Looking for Dover Man Wanted on Several Charges

    DSP Looking for Dover Man Wanted on Several Charges

    Thursday, October 18 2018 9:19 PM EDT2018-10-19 01:19:20 GMT
    Thursday, October 18 2018 9:19 PM EDT2018-10-19 01:19:20 GMT
    Delaware State Police are asking for the public's help in finding a Dover man who they said is wanted on various domestic-related incidents.More
    Delaware State Police are asking for the public's help in finding a Dover man who they said is wanted on various domestic-related incidents. More
  • Delaware Auditor Wagner Defends Appointing Candidate to Deputy

    Delaware Auditor Wagner Defends Appointing Candidate to Deputy

    Thursday, October 18 2018 9:17 PM EDT2018-10-19 01:17:38 GMT
    Thursday, October 18 2018 9:17 PM EDT2018-10-19 01:17:38 GMT
    DOVER, Del. — Delaware Auditor of Accounts Tom Wagner on Thursday defended his decision to appoint the Republican nominee for his current office as a deputy, saying it was not a political decision but a practical one. Wagner on Wednesday appointed JMore
    DOVER, Del. — Delaware Auditor of Accounts Tom Wagner on Thursday defended his decision to appoint the Republican nominee for his current office as a deputy, saying it was not a political decision but a practical one. Wagner on Wednesday appointed JMore
  • New Boardwalk In Slaughter Beach

    New Boardwalk In Slaughter Beach

    Thursday, October 18 2018 9:02 PM EDT2018-10-19 01:02:49 GMT
    Thursday, October 18 2018 9:02 PM EDT2018-10-19 01:02:49 GMT
    State officials gathered in Slaughter Beach today for the groundbreaking of the Marvel Saltmarsh Preserve Boardwalk project.More
    State officials gathered in Slaughter Beach today for the groundbreaking of the Marvel Saltmarsh Preserve Boardwalk project. More
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Maryland Unveils Newest Chesapeake Bay License Plate Design

    Maryland Unveils Newest Chesapeake Bay License Plate Design

    Thursday, October 18 2018 7:01 PM EDT2018-10-18 23:01:00 GMT
    Thursday, October 18 2018 7:01 PM EDT2018-10-18 23:01:00 GMT
    Maryland drivers can update their expression of Chesapeake pride and help with efforts to "Save the Bay" with a new license plate design that state transportation and environmental officials unveiled Thursday at Sandy Point State Park.More
    Maryland drivers can update their expression of Chesapeake pride and help with efforts to "Save the Bay" with a new license plate design that state transportation and environmental officials unveiled Thursday at Sandy Point State Park.More
  • Magnolia Man Charged with Unlawful Sexual Contact

    Magnolia Man Charged with Unlawful Sexual Contact

    Thursday, October 18 2018 6:04 PM EDT2018-10-18 22:04:17 GMT
    Thursday, October 18 2018 6:04 PM EDT2018-10-18 22:04:17 GMT
    Credit: WBOCCredit: WBOC
    Credit: WBOCCredit: WBOC
    Delaware State Police have arrested a man from Magnolia, Delaware after he inappropriately touched two young girls back on Oct. 12 at a high school football game.More
    Delaware State Police have arrested a man from Magnolia, Delaware after he inappropriately touched two young girls back on Oct. 12 at a high school football game. More
  • Salisbury University Basketball Team Pleads to Save Coach

    Salisbury University Basketball Team Pleads to Save Coach

    Wednesday, October 17 2018 6:43 PM EDT2018-10-17 22:43:06 GMT
    Wednesday, October 17 2018 6:43 PM EDT2018-10-17 22:43:06 GMT
    Two weeks ago the Salisbury University men's basketball team was notified that Head Coach Andrew Sachs was placed on administrative leave.More
    Two weeks ago the Salisbury University men's basketball team was notified that Head Coach Andrew Sachs was placed on administrative leave. More
  • Most Popular VideosMost Popular VideosMore>>

  • "Hood Fight Salisbury" Cell Phone Videos

    "Hood Fight Salisbury" Cell Phone Videos

    27 cell phone videos depicting brutal streets fights among teenagers in Salisbury were posted online. Local leaders including the Mayor, State's Attorney and a Reverend react to the media.More
    27 cell phone videos depicting brutal streets fights among teenagers in Salisbury were posted online. Local leaders including the Mayor, State's Attorney and a Reverend react to the media.More
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Examines Scour Hole in Ocean City

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Examines Scour Hole in Ocean City

    The US Army Corps of Engineers is collecting data for a deep- rooted problem in Worcester County. 
    A hole has formed in the vicinity of Ocean City's inlet and it's now 50 feet deep.
    Officials say it's causing shoreline erosion and it could eventually destroy a nearby community. 
    More
    The US Army Corps of Engineers is collecting data for a deep- rooted problem in Worcester County. 
    A hole has formed in the vicinity of Ocean City's inlet and it's now 50 feet deep.
    Officials say it's causing shoreline erosion and it could eventually destroy a nearby community. 
    More
  • New Boardwalk In Slaughter Beach

    New Boardwalk In Slaughter Beach

    With shovels in their hands, state officials gathered in Slaughter Beach today for the groundbreaking of the Marvel Saltmarsh Preserve Boardwalk project.

    Many in the area say they're excited about the boardwalk, as it will allow them a closer view of plants and animals in the saltmarsh.

    Currently, there are only wooden pallets on the marsh that allow people to only go a few feet into its entry. 

    More

    With shovels in their hands, state officials gathered in Slaughter Beach today for the groundbreaking of the Marvel Saltmarsh Preserve Boardwalk project.

    Many in the area say they're excited about the boardwalk, as it will allow them a closer view of plants and animals in the saltmarsh.

    Currently, there are only wooden pallets on the marsh that allow people to only go a few feet into its entry. 

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices