Maryland to expand cell phone-blocking technology in prisons
In an effort to crack down on illegal activity within prisons, Maryland has introduced a new technology that will block calls made from unauthorized cell phones within a prison’s walls.
The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services announced it has partnered with Tecore, a Maryland-based company, to put its technology, called Managed Access, into the state’s prison system.
The technology automatically differentiates between authorized and unauthorized cell phones within a targeted area. Those making illegal calls get a simple message saying their call cannot be completed because the device is not authorized.
“For the last seven years, our administration has worked to put Maryland on the front lines of the national fight against contraband cell phones,” said Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. “This technology arms our dedicated correctional staff with additional tools they need to crack down on cell phones in our facilities, protect integrity and ensure the safety and security of our correctional system.”
Unlike cell phone “jamming,” Managed Access does not interfere with calls made from outside the prison walls, and thus does not violate federal law. It also does not interfere with emergency calls made from any cell phone or require any staff involvement.
DPSCS ran a pilot program using the technology recently at one of its other facilities and found it nearly eliminate the cell phone programs at the facility. With that success, the agency determined to expand the program to Baltimore’s City Detention Center.
Eliminating cell phone misuse in prisons has been one of O’Malley’s main initiatives with the correctional system. Some other projects include investing $1.1 million in facility entrance technology, using cell phone-sniffing dogs trained by its own K9 unit, fighting for legislation to increase penalties for those caught smuggling cell phones into prison and forming partnerships with state’s attorneys to prosecute offenders caught with cell phones.
“In many ways, Maryland was an early leader in the battle against cell phones inside correctional institutions. They set the standard,” said James Gondles, executive director of the American Correctional Association. “Pushing forward with this kind of cellular-detection technology definitely keeps DPSCS in forefront on this issue, and exemplifies their commitment to keeping their institutions among the safest in the country.“