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NJ Prisons Address Cell Phone Smuggling [AUDIO]

Cell phone smuggling continues to be an issue at New Jersey prisons, but law enforcement officials have made enormous strides in stemming the problem.

Cell Phones (Flickr: compujeramey)
Flickr User compujeramey

In 2012, 62 cell phones were brought into the state’s 13 prisons. Only 16 managed to breach the secure perimeter. Those numbers used to be in the hundreds, as recently as a few years ago.

“The fact is that the presence of a cell phone in a prison is just as dangerous as a gun,” said New Jersey Department of Corrections Commissioner Gary Lanigan. “When an inmate is able to use a cell phone, he can continue to conduct gang or drug activity.”

Lanigan said inmates have been known to conduct “hits” using a phone, or direct threats toward witnesses on the outside.

The state’s prisons have several measures in place, both high and low-tech, in order to stop a phone from reaching an inmate. All inmate mail and property is scanned, as well as anyone who walks through the doors, including employees. Lanigan said phones can be introduced in numerous ways, such as vendors, visitors, cafeteria workers and corrections officers.

The penalty is greater for an employee convicted of smuggling.

According to Lanigan, the most effective deterrent would be jamming signals within the prisons, but it’s prohibited at the federal level.

“As technology improves, these cell phones become smaller and harder for us to detect,” Lanigan said. “The game constantly changes as technology changes.”

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