The prisons across the world have a big pain since the telecommunication revolution began in the early 2000s. It is none other than the access of contraband phones by the inmates inside the prison, and it was a clear threat for the security and safety of prisons, other inmates, prison officials, and the public. While coming to the United States, I can confirm that the situation is no different. Many news reports have revealed the vulnerability created by the illegal phones inside the prisons. The biggest example of contraband phone threat is none other than the story of former jail official, Robert Johnson of Lee Correctional Institution.
While he was serving at the South Carolina-based correction center in 2010, Johnson had to seize one package of contraband products to a prisoner, who was also a gangster. Within a few days, Johnson had to face a number of deadly gunshots at him home from an unknown attacker. The investigations revealed that Johnson was targeted by an ex-prisoner who was also a colleague of the inmate whose packages seized. Strangely, the inmate was contacting his friend using a contraband phone, which the authorities could not track and take the sufficient precautionary measures.
I can say that it was one of the biggest lapses of security to the prison officials during those years. My further research into this serious issue revealed that even the relatives of the prison officials had to face death threats and attacks for implementing strict prison rules. In all those cases, contraband phones acted as the channel for communication between criminals and the inmates. After recovering from the attacks, Johnson started campaigning and working on initiatives that are aimed to control contraband phones. He spoke his experience and expressed his thoughts on the need of controlling contraband in various stages.
Additionally, Johnson partnered with Securus Technology, an innovation firm in the prison technology environment, as an independent consultant to contribute its mission to develop a Wireless Containment System. The firm came up with the product in early 2016, and I can say that it was a real innovation in the industry. When Johnson had to testify the needs of a controlling system for contraband in front of FCC in early 2017, he also explained the effectiveness of the WCS. Impressed upon its features, the officials of FCC gave the nod for lightening the regulations for the jails to adopt the technology.
It means that the jail authorities would have a simplified procedure to adopt the call interdiction technology connecting with network carriers and other parties involved in the loop. I observed that the WCS had deployed in some eight prisons in the country since July 2016. The data published by Securus in July 2017 revealed that the smart interdiction system could block nearly 1.8 million calls during the period.