20 governors (Riley included) back prison cell phone jamming bill

With prisoners and tax payers having really no operable say in how prison phone contracts are decided upon, the news that governors across the country have taken up the cause of banning prisoner cell phone use (considered contraband) is alarming.  As AP points out (full article below), the widespread belief is that prisoners are using cell phones to continue to conduct illegal activities from inside the prisons. 

However, one must ask this pool of governors, including Bob Riley, just how much of a problem this really is, who gave them the idea that this was a problem (hmm, couldn’t possibly be the companies DOCs have signed phone contracts with), and what the problem really is for the prisoners–hint, phone use is too expensive, connections are spotty at best, and it is difficult to get new people added to prisoner call lists.

The ability to have phone conversations weighs very heavily on the minds of all prisoners.  Why so critical an issue you might ask.  Well, for one the federal government decided in the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) in 1997 that states must file a petition to terminate parental rights if that parent’s child has been in foster care for 15 out of the most recent 22 months.  ASFA also modified to what extent states had to show a reasonable effort to reunite or maintain family connections. 

To bring ASFA back to the cell phone issue, if imprisoned parents cannot contact their children or child protection agency officials (very hard when children are moved around and when new numbers and names have to be added to your phone list, or when phone usage is so expensive because of some ridiculous phone contract), they come that much closer to not showing any effort to maintain their family themselves, they come that much closer to  LOSING ALL CUSTODY OF THEIR CHILDREN FOREVER.

So, let’s have a real debate about cell phone use.


AP article:


ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Twenty governors have signed a letter to support legislation in Congress to allow states to jam contraband cell phones in prisons.

The bipartisan legislation would enable governors to petition the Federal Communications Commission to use wireless technology to render illegal cell phones useless in prison.

In a letter, the governors say thousands of illegal calls are made by prisoners each year, enabling them to continue their criminal enterprises from behind bars.

The bill has been approved by a Senate committee, and a full Senate vote could come this fall.

The supporting governors are from Maryland, South Dakota, West Virginia, South Carolina, Kansas, Oregon, Kentucky, North Dakota, Mississippi, Iowa, Nevada, Utah, Louisiana, Illinois, Alabama, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, California and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


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