The District of Columbia Department of Corrections received special temporary authority (STA) from the FCC to conduct a demonstration of a directional cell phone jammer designed for prisons. The STA allowed a test on January 8th for 30 minutes sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. However the DC DoC cancelled the demonstration on 1/7 with no official statement why the test was cancelled.
My hope is that the DC DoC realized that using technology to render a smuggled item useless is stupid compared to preventing the smuggling in the first place. Whatever route is being used to smuggle cell phones into prisons also allows weapons to enter a prison. Even if the DC DoC hadn’t stopped the test on their own, the test would likely have been stopped by the courts.
Operation of such jamming technology is flatly illegal under Section 333 of the Communications Act, and the commission lacks the statutory to authorize violations of this congressional directive protecting the rights of authorized users of the wireless spectrum, stated CTIA in a petition filed at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Moreover, the decision to authorize the demonstration made without notice to the public or affected parties, without opportunity for comment, without consideration of any evidence regarding the potential consequences to legitimate transmission of operating the contemplated technology, and with no exigent public-safety need is the very essence of arbitrary and capricious decision-making.
CTIA went to court after failing to get regulatory relief from the FCC.
While we believe that prisoners should not have access to wireless phones while incarcerated, there are other, non-interfering and legal ways to find and take the phones out of their hands, said Christopher Guttman-McCabe, VP of regulatory Affairs at CTIA. There are several companies that provide wireless detection systems that can be used by jails to identify and confiscate phones, and that do not interfere with wireless communications. As the FCC previously acknowledged, Congress has been clear in prohibiting the use of jammers in state prisons.
For the manufacturers spin on this story read this article, they don’t think that prison officials should stop the cell phones from being smuggled into the prison or find and confiscate the phones that are there. Instead the prisons should buy their equipment to make the cell phones not work, vested interest much. My feeling is that if prison officials can’t stop the smuggling of cell phones into a prison they also can’t stop the smuggling of weapons, money and other banned items into prisons. What kind of insanity does it take to think that prison officials don’t need to stop weapon sized items from being smuggled into prisons. The public will be vastly safer if all smuggling of contraband into prisons is stopped.
Assuming prison officials aren’t going to stop the phones getting into the prisons, why don’t they take advantage of the situation. They should use the currently available legal gear to monitor cell communication of prisoners, trace the call to the recipient and then have the recipient arrested for the crime being done. The recordings of the calls would be great evidence in a court to prosecute the criminals that are helping prisoners intimidate witnesses or perform other illegal activities. Nah, they’ll never do that since it would require actual work rather than flipping a magic switch like a commenter on a previous post wanted.