How Many Cigarettes for a Cell Phone?
Prisons awash in smuggled phones as authorities crack down
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted May 26, 2009 12:40 PM CDT
Correctional Officer Jose Sandoval, inspects one of the more than 2,000 cell phones confiscated from inmates at California State Prison, Solano in Vacaville, Calif., April 10, 2009.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
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(Newser) – We know the kind of thing that gets traded on the prison black market: weapons, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes. Now add cell phones to the list, Time reports: Authorities say there is an epidemic of smuggled cell phones, which have been used to orchestrate crimes, plot escapes, and harass witnesses, in addition to keeping in touch with friends and family. California authorities confiscated 2,800 phones last year, double the previous year’s number.

Prisons have resorted to phone-sniffing dogs, and Rep. Kevin Brady has introduced a bill to allow jails to jam signals. “Criminals are using cell phones even from Death Row to threaten victims and harass lawmakers," warns Brady. "Inmates are making literally thousands of calls from prison.”