SC prison officials hopeful federal regulators approve technology to curb contraband cell phone usage

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COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — The use of contraband cell phones behind bars in South Carolina prisons remains an issue. Some help could be on the way.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be discussing ‘technological solutions to combat contraband device usage in correctional facilities’ during their meeting July 13th.

South Carolina Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said any changes from the federal government could make their job easier.

According to Stirling, federal regulators will be taking a look at technology that would allow prison officials to get a contraband cell phone’s International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. They can then send that information to cell phone carriers and the phone can be shut down.

Director Stirling said, “This will allow us to step back, put this technology in and identify where the phones are and ask the industry to turn them off and they will turn them off.”

Stirling said cell phone jamming technology would be the best way to stop contraband cell phone usage.

Currently SCDC has technology that detects cell phone signals and it’s location in prisons but because of short staff they cannot confiscate cell phones every single time. He said it’s dangerous as well, “Can you imagine if someone tried to take your phone where you were making hundreds of thousands of dollars dealing drugs or scamming people, using illegal activity to profit while you’re in prison?”

Stirling said if the FCC gives the green-light for this technology, South Carolina would be a safer place for everybody.

He said, “These folks who come to prisons for serious crimes will no longer be able to victimize people inside the prisons and outside the prisons through these illegal contraband cell phones.”

SCDC said so far in 2021, more than 1,000 contraband cell phones have been found in state prisons.

Right now, contraband cell phones are being sold for thousands of dollars.

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