Cellphone Jamming Reform Bills Drop in House, Senate

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Members of the House and Senate have introduced companion bills that would allow state and Federal prisons to jam cellphone signals in an attempt to prevent contraband cellphone use.

Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Reps. David Kustoff, R-Tenn., and William Timmons, R-S.C., brought the Cellphone Jamming Reform Act of 2019 to the House and Senate on March 28.  The sponsors argued that prisoners use contraband cell phones smuggled inside correctional facilities to engage in illegal activities outside of prison, and that the legislation would curb those activities.

Since the Federal Communications Act doesn’t allow prison facilities to use cellphone jamming technology, Cotton said the bill would circumvent those rules.

Prison officials wrote letters supporting  the legislation, claiming that increased use of contraband cellphones have created problems within and outside of correctional facilities.

“Kidnapping, extortion, bribery, witness intimidation, robbery, identity theft, malware attacks, security breaches and other serious crimes are being orchestrated on these smuggled devices,” Association of State Correctional Administrators President John Wetzel said. “From carrier pigeons to drones, to body cavity to compromised vendors and staff, cellphones are making their way behind prison walls in large numbers.”

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