State getting semi-tough on inmate cellphones

Oct 7th, 2011 | By | Category: Cell phones, Crime and Non-Punishment, Criminal Justice Reform, Spotlight

Thanks to Jerry Brown's pen, inmates with cellphones and dirty staff who smuggle them will no longer receive a hand-slap

XREF: Jerry signs cell phone smuggling bill

Gov. Jerry Brown toughens sanctions for cellphones in prison

The new rule will remove up to 90 days of good-behavior credit for inmates caught with devices. The governor also signed a measure eliminating fingerprinting for food stamp recipients.

By Patrick McGreevy | Los Angeles Times

California prison inmates caught with cellphones will face more time behind bars, and those smuggling the devices in from outside could also be locked up, under a measure signed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown…

The cellphone measure, one of more than 30 bills Brown approved, follows a proliferation of mobile devices found with state prisoners. About 10,700 of the phones were confiscated in state prisons last year; offenders included mass murderer Charles Manson.

The new law will take away up to 90 days of good-behavior credits from convicts caught with the devices. Visitors and prison employees found trying to smuggle them into prison face misdemeanor charges with penalties of up to six months in jail and fines of $5,000 for each one confiscated.

“When criminals in prison get possession of a cellphone, it subverts the very purpose of incarceration,” Brown said. “They use these phones to organize gang activity, intimidate witnesses and commit crimes. Today’s action will help to break up an expanding criminal network and protect law-abiding Californians.”

Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), who introduced the proposal, SB 26, predicted the new law would be “a significant deterrent for people thinking about smuggling phones in.”

Brown also signed an executive order Thursday mobilizing prison officials to try to stop the inflow of phones. He called for more searches to collect phones already in prisoners’ hands and for acceleration of a plan to jam unauthorized phone calls.

The governor also ordered corrections officials to examine the possible use of metal detectors to screen those entering the lockups…(Full text at Los Angeles Times)

Pleased as Paco is to see something being done to curtail this dangerous contraband from entering our jails and prisons, this truly is a piddling law. Arguably, in fact, the law Brown signed is in opposition to his grand realignment scheme in that it will, if actually enforced, increase demand for bed space as phone packing cons receive an extra 3 months in custody. AND, insofar as it is a WEAK law, it will discourage virtually no one from trafficking in cell phones.

Senator Padilla said the new misdemeanor threat would present “a significant deterrent for people thinking about smuggling phones in.” Paco believes Padilla is partially correct, it may well deter people from thinking about smuggling phones. However, it won’t deter anyone from actually doing it. After all, as we have noted here for YEARS, it is already a felony to bribe a peace officer and to accept a bribe as a peace officer. Are we to believe the threat of a misdemeanor will concern those already predisposed to commit felonies?

In any case, at least there is a law on the books now. I’ll get excited when the law is amended to felony status. Until then, YAWN.

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One Comment to “State getting semi-tough on inmate cellphones”

  1. Bryan Avila says:

    You are absolutely correct and about this new law not being a deterrent as well as the bed space. Bed space is limited in pretty much every state in this country to begin with. And possibly 6 months for introduction of a cell phone?? That is absolutely ridiculous! As you stated, it needs to be a felony. Only then can it possibly be a deterrent. As of right now, I just see it as a misdemeanor that will get the person responsible a short term of probation and a fine.