Nashville, TN – Calling it one of the largest security concerns in prisons today, Tennessee Department of Correction Commissioner Tony Parker is again issuing a call for action against contraband cell phones.
Commissioner Parker’s latest call comes on the hills of a just released report from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) that cites the effectiveness of micro-jamming technology to block illegal cellphone signals in correctional facilities.
The NTIA report details the results of a pilot test of micro-jamming technology by the Department of Justice/Federal Bureau of Prisons of micro-jamming technology at a state prison in South Carolina.
“This pilot program is a clear example of available jamming technology that has been tested in a true correctional environment and has provided results that would render illegal cell phones inoperable inside Tennessee prisons, without disrupting legal communication devices outside the targeted area,” Parker said.
Illegal cell phones inside prisons have been used to promote illicit activity, from drug smuggling networks to facilitating assaults and escapes. In 2005, a contraband cell phone was used to facilitate an escape which led to the murder of Tennessee Correctional Officer Wayne “Cotton” Morgan.
For years the corrections industry has asked repeatedly for permission to use ‘jamming’ technology to disable cell phones inside prisons. In 2018, Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) and Representative William Lamberth (R-Portland) sponsored a resolution in the Tennessee General Assembly encouraging the Federal Communications Commission to support the use of jamming technology within Tennessee prisons.
“Without exception, we have continued to ‘kick this can’ down the road, for a variety of reasons,” Parker said. The only solution offered to corrections has been managed access systems that have proven, time and again, to be unreliable and very expensive. Other technology, such as wands and cell phone detectors, present many challenges inside correctional environments.
“It is time to move forward with the use of micro-jamming technology,” Parker said. “All other technology designed to help correctional departments remove the threats that illegal cell phones bring have failed and it is time to put the interest of public safety first.”