Why Prisons Must Stop Contraband Cellphone Calls

Apr 11th, 2014 | By | Category: Cell phones, Katz Litterbox
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katz-litter4A North Carolina prison inmate used a cellphone to direct his homies in the kidnapping of his prosecutor’s father and ordered that he be killed

In 2011, Kevin Melton, a high ranking member of the New York Bloods, ordered a subordinate to go to Raleigh, N.C. and kill his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend.  The intended victim was shot but survived.  In 2012, Melton was tried by Wake County Assistant District Attorney Colleen Janssen for the attempted assassination and, upon conviction, received a life sentence.  Melton obtained a smuggled cellphone while doing his time at the Polk Correctional Institution in Butner, N.C.

On Saturday in Wake Forest, a woman knocked on the door to the home of Frank Janssen, the prosecutor’s father.  When he opened the door he was attacked by several people, one of whom used a stun gun on him.  He was kidnapped and driven to Atlanta, some 400 miles from his home.

On Monday, Janssen’s wife began receiving a series of text messages from a cellphone in Georgia.  One of the messages said:

If you contact police, we will send (Janssen) back to you in 6 boxes and every chance we get we will take someone in your family to Italy and torture them and kill them… we will do drive by and gun down anybody.

The FBI began to trace the calls and found 123 calls and text messages being exchanged between the imprisoned Melton and Janssen’s kidnappers.  Melton and his homies discussed how to kill and dispose of Janssen’s body in a way that he would not be found.  On Wednesday, Melton ordered Janssen to be killed, saying:

However you feel like doing it, just do it.  Make sure to clean the area up.  Don’t leave anything.  Don’t leave any DNA behind.

On Wednesday night, after tracing the cellphone calls, an FBI Hostage Rescue Team raided an Atlanta apartment where they freed Janssen and arrested five kidnappers between the ages of 19 and 21.

Federal law prohibits the jamming of cellphone signals.  The only way prison authorities can keep inmates from communicating by cellphones is to install special towers that control what cellphone calls can come in and out of prison.  Such a system is very costly.

There have been many instances in which prison inmates have used contraband cellphones to direct their confederates on the outside to commit crimes, including hits like the one Melton ordered.  Since prison authorities are unable to stop the smuggling of cellphones to inmates, it is imperative that, regardless of the cost, a system that controls what cellphone calls can come in and out of prison must be installed in every correctional institution ASAP!

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One Comment to “Why Prisons Must Stop Contraband Cellphone Calls”

  1. kl2008a says:

    All I’m hearing is a lot of hot air going back and forth on this issue as the current system does not have any teeth to even attempt to take a serious bite on this matter. For example, if the CDC (no R intended) really wanted to start getting tough about contraband cellphones they could make it an A1 rule violation with no ability to earn back any time taken. It wouldn’t entirely stop the smuggling and possession of contraband cellphones but it would be a start. One more change would be for CDC to lobby for a change in the law that would require that ANY employee CONVICTED in a court of law (not just fired) of any serious offense (smuggling drugs/cellphones/weapons/other dangerous contraband/tobacco), sex with an inmate/parolee (forced or consensual), misappropriations of State funds, forfeits their ability to collect retirement benefits. Currently, if a person gets busted for any of the serious offenses listed above they can resign prior to the effective date of any adverse action, then later on apply for and receive retirement benefits – even if they are convicted and have to serve time.

    NOTE: If the employee facing any type of adverse action resigns BEFORE the effective date of the action no action can occur as technically they are no longer employed by the Dept., and the Dept. cannot refuse to accept an employee’s letter or resignation.

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