Prisons Aim to Change Ban on Phone Jamming

Rampant cell use facilitates crimes committed behind bars
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Dec 8, 2008 11:03 AM CST
Cell phones are a growing problem in prisons.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – Cell phone use is a growing problem among prison inmates, but the obvious solution—signal jamming—is illegal under a 74-year-old federal law. Prisoners can easily smuggle the increasingly tiny handsets, and for the unrepentant among them, “whatever illegal activities you were doing outside, you can continue that uninterrupted,” said a corrections official. Some local and state authorities are pushing for a change to the law.

FCC officials say they are “open” to revisiting the 1934 law, which allows for hefty fines on local and state entities that interfere with federal airwaves such as the ones that carry cell calls. Interest is especially high in Texas, where a death-row inmate threatened a state senator's family. The senator cuts to the chase: "Jam the damn things and let’s see what happens."