Ellen Scrivner: Good morning, and thank you, Kris, for that very generous introduction. It kind of makes it sound like I can't hold a job, right?
Scrivner: I move around an awful lot, and this has been a great experience being back at NIJ, having been there as a visiting fellow early in my career.
On behalf of Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson and our acting director, Kris Rose, who, I might add, did a spectacular job of kicking off this conference yesterday, I want to welcome all of you today to what we think will be a really enlightening discussion concerning the problem of cell phones used for illicit purposes in correctional facilities.
Detainees and inmates using cell phones for illicit purposes to, for example, continue an ongoing criminal enterprise or to intimidate witnesses are a significant problem in our correctional institutions at the local, state and federal levels, and there are no easy solutions to this problem. Trying to block or intercept illicit cell phone communications may really interfere with the actual legitimate use of cell phones, particularly in correctional facilities that are located in densely populated urban areas. Stopping cell phones from being introduced into a facility or locating them once they've been introduced is equally difficult because of the many ways that cell phones can be smuggled and dismantled and hidden.
But today you're going to hear some ideas that show a little bit more optimism, and our intention at this plenary this morning is not to offer a solution to this problem or take a position on a solution because, realistically, there may not be a single solution that fits all circumstances. But, rather, we hope to examine the problem and its potential solutions from the operational, technical, and regulatory perspective, and we have representatives from all of those fields to talk with you this morning. And, in framing it that way, we really hope to advance the national discussion of this problem.
To accomplish this objective, we've assembled a very distinguished panel that will discuss the problem and the potential solution in three very different operational and regulatory environments, each having their own unique challenges, and they include jails, state correctional facilities and the federal correctional systems.
And I will start with our corrections practitioner's perspective. Those will be the first three things that you're going to hear about this problem. So, starting, I'd like to ask Secretary Gary Maynard, who is the secretary of Maryland's Department of Corrections and Public Safety and Correctional Services. Director Maynard has more than 30 years of extensive correctional administrative service, including serving as the Director of the Iowa Department of Corrections.
So please welcome Director Maynard — Secretary Maynard.
Scrivner: OK. We're also pleased to have with us today Mr. Harley Lappin, the seventh director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Director Lappin is a career public administrator with over 25 years of service in the Bureau of Prisons, including serving as the warden of the Federal Correctional Institution in Butner, North Carolina, and as the warden of the United States Prison in Terra Haute, Indiana.
Please join me in welcoming Director Lappin.
Scrivner: And, from the practitioner's perspective, we also have retired Sheriff Aaron D. Kennard. Sheriff Kennard is the executive director of the National Sheriffs' Association. Most of us know that as NSA. And, prior to his appointment as executive director at NSA in 2007, he was the sheriff of Salt Lake County, Utah, where he was first elected in 1990, after having served 20 years with Salt Lake City Police Department.
Join me in welcoming retired Sheriff Kennard.
Scrivner: Representing the perspective of the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, will be retired Admiral Jamie Barnett. Admiral Barnett is the chief of the Commission's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. He's responsible for overseeing FCC activities pertaining to public safety, homeland security, emergency management and disaster preparedness, and he represents the Commission on these issues before federal, state and industry organizations. Admiral Barnett served 32 years in the United States Navy and Navy Reserve, having retired in 2008.
Please join me in welcoming Admiral Barnett.
Scrivner: And our final panel member is Mr. Larry Atlas. Mr. Atlas is senior advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Communications and Information and administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, or NTIA. In that role, he advises the Assistant Secretary on all matters within the agency's purview, including Internet governance. Among his many accomplishments, Mr. Atlas played a key role in implementing both the first spectrum auctions as well as the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which has had quite a substantial impact on all of us.
Most in the room are very familiar with FCC that Admiral Barnett represents, but you may not be as familiar with NTIA. It is a component of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and it serves as the executive branch agency that is principally responsible for advising the President on telecommunications and information policies. And, in that role, NTIA frequently works with other executive branch agencies to develop and present the administration's position on these issues. In addition to representing the executive branch, NTIA also manages the federal use of spectrum, performs cutting edge telecommunication research and engineering,including resolving technical communication issues for the federal government and private sector, and administers the infrastructure in Public Telecommunications Facility Grant Program.
In 2010, Congress tasked NTIA with developing, in coordination with the FCC, the Federal Bureau of Prisons and NIJ plan to investigate and evaluate how wireless jamming, detection and other technologies might be utilized for law enforcement and correctional applications in federal, state prison facilities. And, pursuant to that, NTIA published a request in the Federal Register again in May of 2010 requesting information from the public on technologies that would significantly reduce or eliminate contraband cell phone use without negatively affecting commercial wireless and public safety services in areas surrounding prisons. That would include our capacity to respond to 911 calls and other government radio traffic.
So now I'm going to ask each of our panelists to make brief 5 to 10 minute presentations on their organization's perspective of this challenging problem and its solutions. That will be followed by a 20 minute discussion among the panelists concerning their perspectives on this issue, and then time will be presented at the conclusion for questions. So I would ask you to hold your questions until they have completed their presentations and discussion.
Gary D. Maynard: Thank you very much, and I want to thank Director Rose for inviting us here today. If this were four years ago, we wouldn't be having this conversation because probably in the prison systems around the country, we were not aware of the deadly effects of illicit cell phones.
I first became aware — I've been in Maryland three years. When I first came here in January of 2007, the U.S. Attorney was investigating a homicide that occurred on the streets of Baltimore from a witness who was testifying in a criminal trial, and it was believed that that hit was called for by a BGF — Black Guerilla Family — leader in a prison in Hagerstown, Maryland. That investigation did, in fact, conclude that that hit was called for. During that investigation, we found a lot of testimony that indicated that cell phones were being used for intimidation, drug distribution and many other criminal activities within the prison.
We really have to target cell phones. The more we target cell phones, the more we learn about gang affiliations; the more we target the gangs, the more we find about cell phones. So they are intimately entwined in each other. As was mentioned before, there's no single solution. We have worked to try to improve the intelligence and our communication with our intel officers in our prisons. We have enhanced our facility entrance procedures. We have increased our searches, and we've used more innovation in terms of how to discover and find cell phones in prison.
Our intelligence capabilities, we have enhanced our searches. We use random searches, computer driven random searches. We also have moved into buying equipment for cell phone detection within the system and coming into it. We invested about a million dollars last year to buy BOSS chairs, these body orifice screening scanners, x-ray machines like you see at the airport for your luggage, and SecurView scanners, the same kind of systems you see at the airports that you walk through to detect metal. We have 28 prison facilities. We have all three of those capabilities at the entrance of every facility where inmates, staff and others come into the institution.
We've also tried a little innovation. We found out that dogs could be used out to sniff out cell phones, and we raise our own dogs, we train our own dogs, and in the past couple of years, we found 228 cell phones in the prison.
When we started, our governor in Maryland, Governor O'Malley, he's very interested in this cell phone issue because it leaks over into the streets of Baltimore City in the state of Maryland. So we started trying to find and retrieve as many cell phones as possible, and so the first year we were there, I was there, we found 740 some odd and then the next year 1,200. So it looked really good. Our numbers were going up, and then, at some point, we thought, “Wait a minute. This has got to start going down. We've got to stop the ones coming in. We've also got to find the ones that are there and reduce that pool of phones that are being used.” So you can see, thank goodness, this third year, we're starting to reduce the number of phones that we find. Our search techniques are more increased, so it's not like we're dropping off searching. We have gotten more refined in our searching. It's just that the pool, we think, of cell phones in the prison is finally going down.
In October, November and December of last year, we found X number of phones. That's the charts on the left — 304 inside, 16 before they came in. In December of last year, we installed all of this equipment at the 28 facilities: the x ray scanners, the BOSS chairs and the walkthrough scanners. January, February and March is that first quarter of '10. That's the numbers that were found inside, going down, same number of searches, and the number that we detected on the outside before they got in increased to 38. So it's pretty obvious that the detection does make a difference, so three months before we got the equipment, three months after we got the equipment.
It has an impact on our violence within the prisons. There's no question about the correlation between violence and cell phones. The more that we stay in touch with the gang, track them, communicate more about them, the more we reduce the number of cell phones and the illicit use of cell phones. Then our inmate on inmate assault, serious assaults — we consider a serious assault if they're taken outside of the prison for treatment, even if it's for a couple of stitches or for longer than that — there's been a 30 percent decrease. That's the red chart. Over the years, you can see that.
The inmate on staff assaults also has dropped dramatically, and we feel like the detection systems that include cell phones plus also other types of contraband, the reduction in those contraband has made a difference in the violence reduction.
We hosted a couple of opportunities in our prison system. The one that's on the slide is the old vacant House of Corrections that we closed a couple of years ago. We invited several vendors to come and show their wares and demonstrations, and we had a day-long demonstration there that was, I think, very effective, invited — about six different states came and watched that. Then we had a demonstration at a federal prison facility. We didn't conduct it, but we went and watched that demonstration, and the NTIA, I think, just put a report out about that.
We are looking at getting a CelleBrite system and forensic lab capability, so that we can take the cell phones that are confiscated, and we can analyze who's calling who and see what the network is. On those cases, we're setting up that lab now. I'll be operational next month.
And we are working with the State's Attorney in Baltimore City because that's where a large number of our cell phones are found, because we've got about seven facilities right in the middle of Baltimore and right on the streets, so cell phones are thrown over the fence. So we're working with our prosecutor there to get better prosecutions on possession of cell phones by inmates.
And the cases we have brought, I mean, I'm talking about the last three years, we have maybe one or two cases. In the past several months, we've had these 92 cases that we are working on, and our prosecution rate looks pretty good.
The next steps, we've got to work to increase that prosecution unit in Baltimore City, Anne Arundel County and Washington County. That's where the bulk of our crimes come from, in those areas. Collaborating with the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the DEA, I meet with them on a regular basis. We're conducting investigations now in all of our prison systems to try to prosecute those inmates that have phones and also the staff that may be involved or complicit in that or visitors.
And I can assure you, Maryland is not the only state that's having a problem. I attend the national corrections conferences, and there's not one state in the country that doesn't have this serious problem.
This will just show our contact information. That website up at the top, that is one. If you want to look at the demonstration that was conducted, there's about two hours of video on that website that you could look at, at your leisure, and also the contact information for me or for my special assistant.
Thank you very much.
Harley G. Lappin: Good morning. Thursday, June 10, 2010, I'm reading from my New Jersey newspaper. Last week, headline, “New Jersey Prison Inmate Is Accused of Ordering a Hit on His Girlfriend From Jail,” why and, in fact, this inmate was serving, I think, 47 years. His girlfriend testified against him during the course of that trial, and, consequently, he secured a contraband cell phone and asked his brother and a friend to kill her. And it appears as though, in fact, they did, unfortunately, and these are the types of things we're trying to do to prevent this type of behavior from people who are incarcerated in our institutions.
I want to thank the National Institute of Justice for inviting us to participate in this discussion. I also want to thank — and there's more people than I can think of to thank, and I want to thank them because I'm pleased we're beyond the barrier of not talking about this topic — the staff at the FCC, the staff at the NTIA, many of whom I've met but not recently enough to remember all their names, as well as governors and congressmen, congresswomen and senators around the country who have now taken an interest in this important topic, and we appreciate that NIJ has facilitated us in that discussion. So thank you because we are now to the point we can have an educated discussion about strategies and the many strategies that are available to help limit inmates' access to contraband cell phones.
And it's a bit ironic, I think, for many of you who work in corrections, me standing before you talking about things that limit communication, when, in fact, we all know that we run safe and secure prisons and jails both at the federal, state and local level by effective communication between staff, between staff and inmates, between staff and the public, between inmates and their families, but, without a doubt, we have to do that in a controlled, monitored way to do it safely and securely. So we encourage inmate communications, but only through appropriate strategies and methods.
For example, inmates in the Federal Bureau of Prisons can use the inmate telephone system at rates of 6 cents a minute for local calls and 23 cents a minute for long distance calls to contact family and friends in the community. They can use this system through debit cards or — and calls are normally 15 minutes in length. So, even a long distance phone call, about $3.45 gives them a 15 minute long distance phone call.
They also have — most inmates have unlimited mail use, and have opportunities to visit family and friends in visiting rooms through contact visits and as long as they behave and in those cases where they haven't behaved sometimes through monitored visiting either over closed circuit TV or non-contact visits.
Our problem in corrections is that we struggle for the balance between encouraging communications and maintaining community ties as important aspects of inmate reentry back into our communities on the one hand and maintaining safe and secure institutions on the other. We monitor inmates' communications in both terms of transitional monitoring, who they're calling, as well as for substantial — substantive information, what is the content of the call.
Contraband cell phones obviously allow inmates to make unmonitored calls and seriously threaten institution security as well as public safety. Cell phones enable inmates to make unmonitored calls that thereby allow them to engage in activities that they would likely be discovered if they use the traditional methods of communication within our prisons and jails. These activities include maintaining gang networks, threatening witnesses, introducing drugs and other dangerous contraband into prisons and jails, planning escapes, and the list goes on and on and on.
Undoubtedly, I think this is probably where it's a bit confusing for some that inmates do use the phone calls for contacting family and other friends, trying to do so in an unmonitored way, given their extreme concerns over privacy and the difficulty of communicating with a family member when they know someone else may be listening. I have a solution for that. Don't go to prison. Don't break the law.
But we believe this is the rare case, and that the majority of the cases involve inmates willing to go to the trouble of breaking the law and taking the risk of getting phones, cell phones into institutions and conduct illegal activities. Every year, we discover thousands of cell phones in our facilities. You're saying, “Gee, thousands. How can that occur?” We're a large system — 212,000 inmates, 115 federal prisons that we own and operate, 14 large private contracts and 300 contracts for residential reentry centers, but it really doesn't matter how large or small. The consequences are the same. It jeopardizes our institution's safety and security and without a doubt jeopardizes public safety in our communities.
We, too, as Mr. Maynard described, continue to investigate technologies that detect cell phones. We use metal detectors on visitors and staff to try to eliminate cell phone introduction in the institutions, rely on our traditional methods of identifying contraband in institutions through staff, searching inmates, cell searches, searches of common areas, and the traditional strategies.
A few examples of how phones get into facilities, bags of phones thrown over fences, and you can see here bags of phones have been collected, thrown over fences. Along with those phones, you'll see some other contraband such as protein pills and things of that nature that are being sold to inmates.
Again, this is how the inmates were hiding the phones in their cells, certainly, and then move on to the next one, just a little headline about, unfortunately, we all employ people on occasion who break the rules, who break the law. It's unfortunate tragedy. Fortunately, it's a very small percentage of our employees but I am sure exists in virtually every correctional system and jails throughout the country, and we do our best to identify and detect and investigate staff who misbehave in this way and remove them from the service.
And, again, I think the next one shows a few examples of how they hide them in the prison. You can see behind, in the wall, inside a calendar or a book and, the next slide, again, some books and, of course, in the body. So here's a case where the individual hid the cell phone in a body cavity.
We have had some success using radiofrequency detection, which allows us to detect cell phones in use, but the technology is expensive, and hardware is very intensive. It's also obvious to inmates who could be aware of that. So they're not completely stupid. They only use the phones for a brief period of time and then hide the phones, so it's very difficult to detect the phone. It's impossible to detect a phone with this technology when it's not on.
We've been working with the NIJ for about 10 years to investigate other technologies that exist, and we found none of them that are really all that effective and some are very, very expensive.
Given the difficulty of preventing introduction of cell phones, there's been a lot more interest in developing cell phone jamming techniques. It's a complicated process that we are optimistic we can continue to test and evaluate. When we talk about cell phone jamming techniques, we're talking about spoofing or brute force jamming, and spoofing is a sophisticated method of making the caller think that he or she has reached a real network but, in fact, has only reached a box that tells the caller that no service is available. The caller does not realize that the “no service” message is not real, and the brute force jamming occurs when the area within the institution is inundated with lots of concentrated radio frequency energy, which prevents the phone calls from going through.
There are consequences of that, without a doubt. We want to make sure whatever we do is in the best interest of the public, to protect cell phone usage outside that prison but limit it inside the prison, and we're hopeful that through these opportunities to explore, we'll figure out some of those opportunities.
A new frontier for us, the last slide there, I threw it up there, is a cell phone forensic analysis that when we find the cell phone, what can we learn from that cell phone and who the inmate has called, what they have said, what they have stored. This is extremely valuable to monitoring and managing gangs and other disruptive inmates in prisons as well as offering opportunities for public safety staff in the community to further investigations from the information, FBI, state police, local police, whoever it is, that might find that information of value to them during their investigations on other illegal activities.
So, again, we can talk more about that if you have questions, but I don't want to take up any more time. Again, thanks again. Cell phones are not going to go away or go away easily. We are not able to find every cell phone introduced into an institution. We're not going to be able to jam every single signal, but we certainly want to continue to look for solutions. We thank, again, NIJ, NTIA and others for their partnership in this. We appreciate the hard work you're doing, given the fact this is critically important for protecting not only our institutions' safety and security but also public safety. So, again, thank you very much.
Aaron D. Kennard: I am Sheriff Aaron Kennard, retired, 38 year cop, now director of the National Sheriffs' Association, and I don't want to insult all of you and not — but, having said that, I would like to give you a little bit of a civics lesson as to what a sheriff is and who sheriffs are.
To give a little bit of a comparison, there are about 15,000 chiefs in the country, and there are 3,084 sheriffs in the country. What is a sheriff, and what does a sheriff do? In most jurisdictions, the sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer of that county.
I was the sheriff of Salt Lake County for 16 years. I had, by state law, ultimate jurisdiction, over all law enforcement efforts in Salt Lake County, but, in my county, I had 16 police chiefs. Now, you don't think we had little to-dos and whatever.
Think of the Elizabeth Smart abduction. Mr. Smart was not happy with what Salt Lake City was doing, and so he continued to harp on me, wanting to know why I was not doing more, but you're not aware that the Salt Lake County Sheriff had over 400 people involved in that investigation. You never saw my face on the news. You may have seen it once or twice. But Chief Dinse was the one that was taking all the blame, but the bottom line is the sheriff is the one that the citizens, in a lot of jurisdictions, if they don't like what's happening, they can go to that sheriff because that sheriff, by state law, has the ultimate jurisdiction of law enforcement.
Having said that, in some jurisdictions, the sheriff is the only law enforcement, especially when we start talking of rural areas. As I mentioned, I had 3,084 sheriffs in the country. Seventy-five percent of those sheriffs are small agencies — 100 deputies or less. Now, having said that, probably 90 to 95 percent of all jails are run by sheriffs.
Before anybody — and I can't say this 100 percent accurately — but I can say the majority of anybody that ever goes to a federal or a state prison will go to my jail first. They're arrested. If they're arrested by the feds or arrested by the states or the local municipality, they go to the sheriff. They go to my jail.
I had a jail, two jails in Salt Lake County. One was 4,000 beds; the other one was 600 beds. I have to agree with Mr. Maynard and Mr. Lappin in regards to the technology. If we had the technology able to detect some of the cell phones and some of the contraband coming into our jail, needless to say, we wouldn't have to develop the jamming process because we would already have confiscated them, but, as you well know and you saw a slide, they are very ingenuous in how they get some of this contraband into the jails.
But, having said that, what is it they're doing with this contraband, with these cell phones?
Twenty years ago, it would be interesting to know how Gary Gilmore got in touch with the young lady that smuggled a gun to him. If you're watching the news, you know that Salt Lake City in Utah is going to be in the news come Friday at midnight. We are going to execute Gary Gilmore by a firing squad. This happened 1985 when I was a captain in Salt Lake City PD. He somehow got information to his girlfriend to meet him with a gun underneath the courthouse as he was going to court. So, if you don't think it's a serious matter, it's already been mentioned to you that somebody has intimidated witnesses, has put out a hit on a girlfriend. This guy shot to death a lawyer and wounded one of my bailiffs who later died. It's taken 25 years for this guy to pay the price of ruining so many families, not only the two that he shot there but an additional one that he killed while in prison.
Just to reaffirm what has already been mentioned to you, the very fact that it is, indeed, a serious problem, they can be dismantled very easily. As you saw in one of the slides, the whole thing can be brought in. We in jails will end up doing what is legally a strip search, but it's not really a full strip search, and they can be concealed in just about any way you can imagine. But, hopefully, we will hear from individuals, as Jamie — Admiral Barnett — allowing some things to take place, NIJ hopefully being the research agency, and technology can be developed that we can discover some of these things that are coming into our jails and our prisons.
Bottom line is we need some help. I'm hoping that we not only have the professionals here that will help us, but we will extend it to the private sector. If private sector wants to help, as was mentioned, for us to put up jamming on all the jails, we're there to try and keep you, the citizens, safe, but if I've got a jamming situation going on in my jail, we have a riot take place or we have the need for a response quickly to one of the jails or anybody, anyplace in the community, these jamming devices are not that accurate that we can't keep it from happening and affecting other areas in that regard.
So it's, indeed, an honor to be here. I thank you very much. I'm a little apologetic for my vigor. I know that I was invited because I spoke about this a year or two ago, and I got too excited about it. Then, the next thing I know, she's invited me here to come back and tell you why we need to do this. Thank you, indeed, for being here. We sheriffs are very passionate about what we're doing, but we're here as a partnership with the federal, state and local. Thank you very much for having us here.
James Arden Barnett Jr.: Alright. My name is Jamie Barnett, and, as Ellen told you, I'm the chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission. And, like the other panelists here, I'm so pleased to be here and appreciate the invitation from the National Institute of Justice — Ellen, Kris, Jack, Joe Heaps — all that brought us here, and particularly delighted to serve on this panel of folks who are focused on this and expert practitioners and people that are going to help us find the solution.
I might add — and I didn't tell Ellen this, so she couldn't have related it to you — in another lifetime, I was an attorney in Mississippi and represented law enforcement officers, sheriffs, police officers and correctional officers who were, for one reason or another, sued. I would say always unjustly, but I defend and that's why I defended them. And so it's a — while I can't say I have a full appreciation for everything that law enforcement and correctional officers are up against, it did give me a strong taste, particularly as I visit various prison and jail facilities.
First, let me tell you that we absolutely have to do something about contraband phones in prisons, not only for the reasons that Harley Lappin gave you just a minute ago but countless stories. We continue to hear stories at the FCC from various people in the public safety community about how these phones are being used, how they're causing danger to other inmates, to people outside, how criminal enterprises are being run basically from prison. We have to do something about that.
Coming from the FCC and one that's all about networks and technology and trying to find the right technology for communications, I would tell you there is a technological solution. We have to find the technological solutions for this and have confidence that working together that we can do so.
Ellen indicated that we would say something about what the position of our various groups are, and so I have to tell you, at the current time, cell phone jammers are illegal. They're illegal by a congressional action. This is not some type of FCC rule. There are several various laws that they go into, and I won't go into individual parts of it, but, basically, you can't interfere with radio signals for communications anyway, and that's the current stance.
Now, there are provisions where you can do things for experimentation, and as the General Maynard had indicated, Maryland is one of those areas that's leaning forward on that and have conducted a test of cell phone jammers and other technologies, and we appreciate that leaning forward.
But, as a long term solution, the law would, in fact, have to be changed. Back in 2009, the Senate passed a bill that would legalize, in essence, jamming in prisons, and so that's out there. And then, of course, I will mention a little bit later, the notice of inquiry that Larry Atlas over at the National — NTIA will be discussing with as we explore these other solutions, but right now it's not something that we can use on a widespread basis.
Now, let me mention this. There's also a reason why jammers are illegal. We're already seeing illegal jammers come into the United States and being introduced. You can get them on the Internet. You can find them. But we're already having problems with this.
I had talked earlier to our Enforcement Bureau chief, Michele Ellison, and the number of enforcement cases against jammers being used in society is going up. We had complaints from police departments where their signals are being jammed. We've had complaints from fire departments where their signals are being jammed. So, the other thing that's kind of the public safety side, we would be concerned about 911 calls not being able to go through. We would be concerned, also, not only just on the public safety side, but if jammers were available and legal and they weren't handled in a very careful manner from the standpoint of manufacturer through sale, and then even disposal, what happens to them after they're disposed, they're also a homeland security aspect of this. If I were a terrorist and I wanted to conduct some type of act, one of the things I would want to make sure is that public safety and, quite frankly, the public would not be able to communicate effectively. So we do have to be concerned about that, and my bureau is about both public safety and homeland security.
But that doesn't mean that we don't need to go forward with other technological solutions, including looking at jamming. I think that that's why the Congress moved forward with tasking NTIA to look at this. We look forward to working with NTIA and other federal and state and local partners to develop this, and we appreciate the work that they are doing.
Let's talk about some of those technological approaches. We already kind of mentioned the cell phone jamming. I do have some of the concerns that it has, and we would have to think about how those would be addressed. It's currently illegal. It would take congressional action, further congressional action, and that might take a little bit of time.
The second one is the managed access, and, if I could describe this very, very briefly, this, in essence, is putting up a cell phone tower that has all of the carriers' antennas on it, and so, when you open your cell phone and make a call, what it looks for is the best, strongest signal. So it will pick up that signal and basically communicate with that thing. So, if you put this in a prison and a contraband cell phone tries to make a call, it goes to that tower, and then there's a comparison of the approved cell phone numbers that can make a call, and if it's not on that list, in essence, the call is blocked. So, in essence, the only thing that that takes at this point is agreement with the carriers, and they have indicated that they would be willing to do that.
Detection is another matter. You've heard that mentioned up here. It does take some — by the way, managed access at this point does have a fairly significant price tag on it, and so we would have to think, if that was one of the solutions, of how to bring that down or how to make sure that that's available to state and federal, well all, state, local, tribal, all prison and jail facilities.
The detection, currently legal, it does, I think, and what I've heard from public safety folks is that it does place more burden on the correctional officer, on the public safety officer. There's more procedures, more equipment. It has to be continually swept, and, you know, so those are things that we would have to consider about that burden on it. And there are other interdependent issues as well.
So one of the things that I'd like to focus on in my remaining remarks, then, is if we have one that's legal, then maybe we need to explore this.
Is there anybody from Mississippi who's here today? We do have some Mississippi folks. OK. So you understand how I'm talking, then, right?
Barnett: They're the only people in here who don't have an accent.
I'm very interested that Mississippi is also taking a leading position of this. They have already contracted with a managed access provider. I don't know how far along — I understand some of the installation has occurred, but the equipment still is there. So the FCC is going to watch this, and this is at Parchman, which is one of the major penitentiaries in the state of Mississippi, in Sunflower County, and, you know, we're going to really look at how this goes and see how that develops because that may provide some of the answers to this scurrilous problem.
Larry D. Atlas: Hi. Thanks, Ellen and everyone, for having us. As you can tell, we're all trying to work together to solve a very difficult and very important problem, and I just wanted to come and speak for a few minutes to let you know what NTIA is doing on the contraband cell phone front.
NTIA, which is part of the Department of Commerce, serves a variety of functions. First and foremost, we are the President's principal advisor on telecommunications policy, and in that role, my boss, Larry Strickling, who is the NTIA administrator, has made it clear that the administration thinks that contraband cell phone use is intolerable; And we've heard many of these stories over the years, not only in Baltimore and now New Jersey, and that's just intolerable, and we stand ready to assist federal prisons and law enforcement officials as they search for technological solutions to the problem.
At NTIA, we think we can help in two ways. First, as the manager of federal agency use of radio spectrum, we can approve testing or — and as well as implementation of several of the technical solutions that we've alluded to in federal prisons.
Second, we can test possible telecommunications based solutions to the problem. Our Institute for Telecommunications Services in Boulder is a world-renowned telecommunications testing facility that recently tested one possible technical approach to the problem, the jamming of cell phone signals, and we did that test both in the lab at Boulder and then proceeded to do a test, which Gary was at and Harley helped administer, at the federal prison facility in Cumberland, Maryland.
As Admiral Barnett's pointed out, there's lots of issues related to jamming. It's gotten a lot of the press, but it's only one of the possible solutions. Some of the issues related to jamming is a jammer is a very blunt device. So not only does it, if it's effective, cut off the cell phone signal to the prisoner, it cuts off the cell phone signal of first responders and public safety within the prison, and there's also the issue of whether or not — how calls outside the prison walls are affected.
The tests that we did in Boulder and then in Cumberland showed a couple of things: First, the jamming signal was stronger than the cell phone signal when the jammer was on. In other words, the jammer works to jam signals, and that's not surprising to engineers, jamming technology is well-understood and well-known to work.
Second — and this is probably one of the more significant findings — we discovered in part, both by doing the test and working with Bureau of Prisons to create the test and set it up, the test results are idiosyncratic to the particular jammer being tested and the facility. So, if you change the jammer that you use, you change where you place the jammer, you put the jammer in buildings with different structural characteristics and propagation factors; it produces different results for different installations at different facilities or at the same facility.
Also, we couldn't draw any conclusions about interference with cellular signals outside the jamming zone. And, you know, Cumberland is a prison facility in a rural area with lots of buffer between the street and the outside prison and the prison facility itself. That's not true at other facilities such as Jessup, or other more urban facilities.
So the tests showed a lot of what we know and what we don't know. I think it also demonstrated how difficult this is in terms of from an installation standpoint if you were going to replicate this prison by prison across the country.
As part of — in addition to doing the jamming test, as part of the fiscal 2010 appropriations process, Congress asked us in coordination with the Bureau of Prisons, the Institute of Justice, and the FCC to develop a plan to investigate technical solutions to cell phone use in prisons. And we put out a notice of inquiry that discussed, briefly, three possible groups of technical solutions: jamming devices that jam cell phones, detection devices that detect a cell phone into a very small area — they don't interfere with the call but tell prison officials that you should search this cell or that cell, and, again, that's also a technology that only works when the cell phone is on — and, third, as Admiral Barnett mentioned, managed access systems that permit calls from certain phones to go through but blocks others.
Each of these solutions poses different technical, implementational, operational and legal issues, and as a first step to formulating the plan that Congress has asked us for, we released a comprehensive notice of inquiry soliciting comments on these technologies and a variety of questions that we posed related to each of them. The comment period just closed this past Friday, and we're very gratified. We got over 40 comments from a wide variety of commenters, manufacturers, prison officials, general public, public safety groups, and we're hopeful that we can draw from those comments as we formulate the plan and make our report to Congress later this year.
And I look forward to working with my federal and state colleagues to help craft not one solution, but I think it's going to be multiple solutions and multiple locations and multiple ways to a very vexing problem. Thank you.
Ellen Scrivner: Some of the themes that were discussed that I found pretty interesting — and I didn't really know that it was just four years ago when the discussion really started, that there wasn't that much discussion before that, and somebody had commented that there were certain barriers to that discussion. Along with that, we saw the theme that as you try to increase communication for all and including those in prisons who have legitimate reasons to communicate and including communication among staff, then you also, however, have the questions about it runs counter to safety in many arenas. So that was a theme that we heard.
We also heard more about the laws being passed, and yet even when laws are passed, questions start to come about as to how those laws can be effectively implemented.
And then I think it was Admiral Barnett that talked about managing access and seemed like there would be a lot of opportunities there in terms of how you go about doing that. There's detection through technology, but they've talked about how expensive that is, and so it seems like every time we talk about a solution, there's a number of other things that come up that kind of run counter or raise questions as to that solution.
I think it was Director Lappin who talked about, however, that this is really a new frontier, and so, given that, given those particular themes and this whole notion of this being a new frontier that can really encapsulate a lot of future efforts, both at the local, state, and federal level, I'd like to ask our panel to start talking about what they see as the future directions. What will this new frontier look like in your agencies, and what will be the regulatory perspective on that?
So I'd like Secretary Maynard to start out talking about how you see the new frontier in your arena.
Gary D. Maynard: I'm very, very encouraged today to hear the conversation here because, as everybody has said, there's no single solution, and it's going to take all of us — private sector, government, state and federal agencies, local agencies — working together to solve this problem, and, again, I think in the future, we are going to continue to, at least in the Maryland and probably most state correctional systems, to search harder, try to get detection devices to include dogs, to include technology, and probably continue to pursue what was alluded to, the legitimate ways to approach the federal government, the FCC, NTIA, to work with them to establish a good set of criteria that we can access and demonstrate in some of our facilities.
What concerns me — and Director Lappin and I have had this conversation before about the different levels of security where the possession of cell phone is much more critical. In our maximum security prisons in Maryland, our 3 out of that 28, I would say that the number of cell phones in those prisons may be — I think we found one in the last three months in those three prisons. So we are keeping those down, not getting in, finding those. As the numbers go up, it's in our — not medium but in our minimum security and our work release facilities where inmates come and go. So we hope that the inmates in those systems are better behaved, less of a threat to public safety.
And, again, the one thing that concerns me is that that one cell phone at the highest security prison where the most dangerous are, if we don't find it, it just takes one cell phone to call for a murder on the streets of Baltimore. So that's where I think that maybe jamming might have a place or at least the managed access might have a place for us. Now, the cost that's been quoted to me over the past has been for the technology is about $250,000 per facility. So, unless the competition gets greater and price goes down, we wouldn't be able to afford that in a large scale, but that's — I see us sort of pursuing both of those avenues on a limited — I would just like to have the access to petition to try some of the technology.
Harley G. Lappin: I agree with Secretary Maynard. It's great that we're here and having this discussion because I think there was a time where there was a lack of discussion on this issue. As we all know, I'm sure since people have been incarcerated, we have people in those populations that are going to break the rules. It wasn't that long ago we didn't have phones in prisons. So then we had phones in prisons, but it went decades before we actually began to monitor those phones and monitor who inmates call because the inmate population changed — different characteristics, different behaviors, different pressures on them to continue an activity or advocate for some illegal activity even though they were incarcerated. So my guess is that this won't — this discussion is just going to lead to another discussion in the years to come as technology advances and inmates continue to be more sophisticated and more skilled at accomplishing what they want to accomplish, even if it's illegal.
And so I think it's great to open the door to all of these options. I don't think any of us — and Secretary Maynard and I are members of the Association of State Correctional Administrators, which represents all the directors of corrections in the United States. I don't think there's any of us that have landed on what the ultimate option is.
However, we've been a bit frustrated, given the lack of discussion and interest in what we think is a serious public safety situation, and so we're ready, willing and able to explore any options. I know you're welcome in any federal prison, as I'm sure Secretary Maynard would offer up in Maryland and I'm sure the sheriff would work with sheriffs around the country to explore what works best, where and how.
Given the variety of types of construction that we all have, as you indicated, it may not work the same in one room as it does in another room if it's jamming technology, and that may be true of some other aspects, given the type of technology. So we look forward to it and want to help in any way that we can.
Aaron D. Kennard: Thank you, Ellen.
The real issue with the sheriffs, as I mentioned to you before, 75 percent of the sheriffs are small agencies, but they still have jails. When we have this technology coming forward, I'm going to need some help. I'm going to ask the Department of Justice, NIJ, the FCC, involve me, involve the Sheriffs' Association in these discussions. Let us sit with the Bureau of Prisons. Let us sit with NIJ and FCC in a panel or see if we can't get DOJ to get a grant program going to discuss this because the sheriff, the small sheriff, is going to be struggling to be able to afford some of this technology.
Lee Baca with 17,000 deputies, 50 contracts, and a $2.5 billion budget can probably handle anything in L.A. County that comes about, same way with Broward County in Florida, but Sheriff Ted Kamatchus in Iowa with his small jail may not be able to afford what may be mandated coming down by what some of these tests and some of the panels come up with.
So it's a partnership that I'm going to ask that you remember. Involve NSA in the process. Make sure that we are at the table, so that we can cover the smaller agencies, the rural areas, because, as I mentioned, very few people, if any, come to these state prisons or to the federal prisons without having first gone through a jail. All of our jails are supposed to be maximum security. There's no such a thing as a minimum security jail because the hardest of the hardest are in these jails as well as the mom and pop theft, DUI, and what have you, the murderers, the terrorists. They go to the jails first. They wait to be sentenced. When we finally get somebody sentenced out of jail to go to the federal prison or to the state prison, we, the sheriff, will transport them to there. Hopefully, we've done our job, done a good search and kept contraband going from the county to the feds or the states, but it's an issue that the sheriffs are needing some help, especially in today's economy, so don't forget us.
Lappin: Well, I think that's a very good point that cost is a factor, and, hopefully, in exploring this, we can figure out ways to do it in a way that is the least expensive. Whether you're large or small, corrections is typically on the tail end of the criminal justice cycle and oftentimes struggle to acquire funding even for the largest systems to allow you to go out and do some of the things you'd like to do. I mean, I think that's been the limiting factor on some of the detecting technology is that it is so expensive, even for those of us that run large systems that have large budgets. We can't do that under the current financial restraints.
Kennard: My typical response coming from a commissioner when I was sheriff was, “Sheriff, you're the deep, dark hole of our budget.”
Kennard: And bottom line is, as you mentioned, corrections is the first one to get cut because it's the biggest budget. So, if we cut 10 percent of Sheriff Kennard's $50 million correction budget, that makes up for everything else in the county, and the sheriff just — he handles it.
Lappin: And especially when 75 percent of what you're spending is on people.
Kennard: You're right.
Lappin: And when you take cuts of that nature, the first thing that's going to go are people —
Lappin: — people who are out there protecting the public, and that's where it makes it very difficult.
James Arden Barnett Jr.: You know, there's not — and I agree. There's nothing that really we can say is a silver lining in this terrible, terrible problem, other than the direness of it, the insidiousness of it may focus some attention by those who would be willing to fund and look at ways to make these devices more expensive and more affordable, plus, and as I know — and I've seen city and county budgets, Sheriff — you know, the prisons, the jails, they're always toward the end. It's very difficult to get funded for that.
But this would be one that I would say would have national interest and we should focus on that, so we're going to be exploring that.
So, Ellen, you had asked about, you know, what's kind of on the horizon, this is of intense interest to the FCC. Chairman Genachowski asked me for regular reports on what we're doing. You know, we're talking — Maryland, as I mentioned, is leaning forward on this. We're receiving inquiries from California and other, we're looking at things in Mississippi, looking for ways that we can move forward.
Now, if the Congress passes a bill, obviously that sets up a whole new horizon, but, until then, we still have to find solutions, and that's why we're looking at the ones that are already legal. And if we can find ways to bring those prices down and promote that, that may be the first major step forward that we can make.
Larry D. Atlas: I'll add to that. I think two things. One, the one thing we know inmates have a lot of is time. So this is going to be an ongoing cat and mouse game. Very similar to cyber security, you build a wall, people figure out how to penetrate it, the same thing in telecommunications.
Second, you know, I think when we get to the bottom of this, at the end of the day, it's all going to be cost driven, and we need to figure out a way to come up with solutions that aren't customized because if we're going to have to customize this, you know, prison by prison, cell block by cell block, you know, just looking at the tests that we've, you know, helped to facilitate and seeing the kind of manpower that went in from the government side, which is not going to happen for every installation, it's going to be prohibitively expensive. So we need to find solutions that can be implemented without a lot of customization, and maybe part of that, as Secretary Maynard said, is, you know, we're going to have to prioritize and focus on certain types of prison populations first and approach it that way.
Scrivner: I have another question I'd like you all to take a brief stab at, and you've all focused so much on the cost of this and that there are technologies out there that would advance the field, but they're very costly. Are any of you aware of any areas where there are some best practices going on where they have dealt with the issue of cost and that they have managed to be successful in reducing the incidence and prevalence of cell phones in the — illicit cell phones in the correctional populations? Sheriff or Secretary?
Maynard: I think — no, not really. I was going to say earlier with Larry was talking, we talk among ourselves. The Association of State Correctional Administrators, we talk among ourselves, and I'm sure sheriffs do and FCC. I think the idea of us getting together, somebody sponsoring our getting some groups of people together to talk about the collective solution is going to be key because when we talk among corrections directors, we focus on the problem. We can talk about the problem all day and some solutions. We don't have many, other than just what is standard practice, but I think the key is really to get with the other players and sit down and have some — go to problem solving and sort of look at the cost and so on.
I mean, we — I don't know of any inexpensive solution, other than our dogs are not — they don't eat that much, so —
Maynard: They may sniff out a few phones on detection, but the rest of the technology is pretty expensive when they talk — every vendor I've talked to that has anything close to it, it's a pretty healthy price.
Lappin: Before I try to answer your question, let me speak to that just for a second because I know we've talked a little bit about cost, but I assure you — and my guess is if you got all the directors in here, many sheriffs in here, number one is that we need to take our time and figure out what is in the best interest of all of us because the last thing in the world we want to do is put something in a prison that's going to jeopardize the sheriffs and the fire departments and the other people of being able to respond to an emergency.
And so, even though we've been a bit frustrated by the lag that's taken, this is an important discussion because, the end of the day, we got — you don't pass good law overnight. It takes time to pass a law or change a law, if that's what it's going to take, and I think we need this education. We need to consider all the factors, so that when we go forward, we're going forward with something that allows us to better protect our institutions and our staff but doesn't jeopardize public safety by blocking a phone call from a public servant who's trying to take care of somebody in the community. So, bar none, price and everything, that is the most important part, I think, of what we're doing.
But I think right now, Ellen, I think it's a combination of things. It's, you know, we've had some impact on reducing the numbers by more thorough searches of staff and visitors coming into prisons, enhancing security around prison, such that it's not as easy for the license to be — gain access over the fence.
And, believe it or not, you'll chuckle about this, but we have a director who is describing the potato gun that was used in one state where they actually had a device, like a catapult where it would shoot them over the fence.
I was talking with some directors in — or the Director of Corrections in Mexico. Carrier pigeons. I mean, phones are light enough today that a carrier pigeon — or they can take it apart such that they can get the parts into a prison. That's pretty extreme.
But I think relying not only on what's worked for us in the past, more thorough searches, more frequent pat searches and strip searches, realize that takes people, and what we're seeing in many prison settings is a decline in the number of people we have watching inmates, and that's not just true in the federal system, it's true in the states because, as budgets are affected, when you affect the budget of a correction system or a public safety program, typically you're affecting people, given the costs associated with salaries and benefits versus the day to day operational cost. And so that creates barriers or prevents us from doing the job we traditionally did when we didn't have as — we had more people than we have today.
But, certainly, any of that, whether it's dogs or detection devices, the utilization of all that's available has made some of us a little more successful. It has by far not eliminated the problem because we continue to find contraband cell phones in virtually all of the prisons, with the exception of a handful that are so secure, when we run them, that type, but are so expensive to run that you can't run all the prisons like that. So those that have the super max and those types, you're limiting the options available, given that everything is searched and everything is monitored, but it's so expensive to operate that, you know, people could say, “Well, gees, just run them all like that.” Well, one, it's not necessary for many of the people in there, and, two, it's so expensive we couldn't afford — we could never acquire the funding to do that, so …
Barnett: I'm not a practitioner. We have heard of studies that were done where in prisons where the cost of prisoners making landline telephone calls goes down, so does the contraband cell phone use. On the other hand, one of the proposals for paying for some of the managed access stuff is actually putting a little bit more on those landline calls, so that the prison would have some additional revenue that would allow to pay for the managed access. So those two things are kind of at odds with each other, but they may contain some of the solution.
Kennard: Ellen, we also have situations such as what we're going to do in June in Anaheim where the National Sheriffs' Association gets together with all the sheriffs in the country. We have some panels and some seminars to deal with this, but, in regards to best practices, just like the director is saying, it's hit and miss. We deal internally with sheriffs. We deal on a basis with the state, local, federal people, but it's just the ability to get together and share these best practices and then develop our own policies and procedures. We on a state and local level will then get with the feds and see what they have done with their best practices.
Scrivner: I feel like we've had the opportunity to kind of sit in and listen to the brain trust in corrections, including all of you, in terms of not only the issues but what really is going on in terms of best practices and what needs to be done.
Audience Member 1: Has there been any discussion about trying to enlist the cell phone providers and cell phone companies' help in this issue? That may be a shot in the dark, but has anyone explored that?
Kennard: Yes, we have through the National Sheriffs' Association. Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, they are very much aware of the problem. They've also mentioned the fact of the cost, the very issue of what they can legally do, and, of course, the Admiral had mentioned what the state law says. And they're bound by not only state but federal laws as to what they can be doing in this regard. But we as the Sheriffs' Association are dealing with just about all of the private sector, as I mentioned earlier.
Atlas: Let me add to that. If Admiral Barnett was here, I think he'd also mention that they've been working with the carriers to try to arrange tests on a managed access type of technology because it requires coordination with the carriers, and I think they've been cooperative, at least on the testing front.
They are, however, really fearful, from a business perspective and a public use perspective, of having thousands of cell phone jammers kind of floating out in the world for a couple reasons. One, from a public safety standpoint, the illicit use issue, you know, as he mentioned, you know, from a public safety standpoint, terrorist gets a hold of one of those things and blocks out all communications.
Second, they have a concern about it spreading from public safety to other uses. So a movie theater operator says, “You know, people don't really like cell phones in our — going off in our theater. I'm going to block the calls,” or things like that.
So, you know, there's a legitimate concern there. We have to figure out how to navigate through that, at least in terms of the jamming technology.
Maynard: Very briefly, when we did the demonstration at Jessup at the House of Corrections for the managed access, we did coordinate with the carriers because they had to get permission — give permission to do that. But, just from the conversation today, I think we need to go further in working with the carriers, with NTIA and others to bring about some of these demonstrations.
And we are watching — the Association of Corrections Directors are watching Mississippi and what the admiral alluded to about the demonstration, the contract they have for managed access.
Lappin: But I think our interaction has been — I've seen a bit of resistance, and I don't think it was intended to be blatant resistance. I think they have legitimate concerns. They've got to be part of this discussion, and I think that's why it's important that we involve them in this. They are part of the solution, and I think now they are beginning to realize the dilemma we have and are open to reasonable solutions. So that's, again, a good thing, but I think there's — given the uncertainty and the concern over how it impacts service as well as some of the other things we've mentioned, some resistance there, but, again, they're part of the solution. We've got to have them engaged.
Scrivner: OK. I think we have a question over here.
Audience Member 2: I have heard a lot about cell phone use but nothing about the Internet either for e mail or things like Skype. I realize prisoners don't usually have computers, but many of them have access to them when they're working in other parts of the prison. Has this been a problem, and how is that being addressed?
Lappin: It was a problem in the federal system years ago when inmates did have access to computers. They no longer, by policy, have access to computers that would afford them the opportunity to get on the Internet, and so that has not been a huge problem for us.
On the other hand, we have now moved to an electronic messaging program for inmates. Again, they don't have access to the Internet. It's done through an independent service, and — but we have not had complaints or concerns raised based on this secure managed mail system that we've piloted in the Bureau of Prisons for several years. But, without a doubt, agencies or organizations that don't control inmates' access to systems that allow them to get to the Internet, it's a problem.
We have had breakdowns in the past where that's occurred, and they've reached out. So, again, it's an area that we have to control and manage in our institutions.
Kennard: On a state and local level, it's just as the feds are. We don't allow them access to the Internet. It's like what I did in my jail. I cut the coffee out. You don't have a right to coffee when you come to jail. If you don't like it, don't break the law and don't come to jail and same way with the Internet.
Scrivner: Any other comments? OK. We have a question on this side. Then we'll get back to you.
Audience Member 3: My question is what role have cell phones been found to play in recruiting terrorists among inmates, and where does that fall on your priorities?
Lappin: Well, we don't have an incident where we've had someone, to my knowledge, using a cell phone, a contraband cell phone to recruit terrorists. We house about 250 international terrorists in the federal system, and based on the classification system, some of those, again, are in such secure facilities that we have a better managed way of controlling what goes into that prison. But, without a doubt, there are some of the international terrorists in our system, in general population facilities, where they could have access to a cell phone.
So what we don't know, we can't report. It could have happened, but we've not had a case, to my knowledge — and I've got a few folks in the audience who deal with this all the time — where we've found someone actively recruiting somebody to a terrorist philosophy over a contraband cell phone.
Has it happened through the mail? Yes. Has it happened through visits? Yes. But, again, given the procedures in place, we can stop that correspondence before it occurs because we read all of that mail prior to it being sent or prior to it being received, and most of those visits are monitored, even if an interpreter is necessary to be part of that visit or part of the practice of reading and monitoring the mail, or, if they do make a phone call, we have a monitor on the phone, a — I'm sorry — an interpreter on the phone.
So this comes down to controlling based on threat level of the inmate, what access they have to communication, whether it's telephone, mail, or visits, and those are the three primary ways in which people conduct their communication.
So, again, I can't speak for Secretary Maynard or the sheriff, but I don't think we have an example of one where we've found someone recruiting terrorists over a cell phone.
Maynard: And I would say that we, as the director mentioned — we have not had an incident where we have found that to be the case in Maryland, the recruiting of terrorists has taken place over a cell phone.
And, in the Association of Directors, the 50 directors around the country, that has not been an issue that's been raised yet. It doesn't mean it's not happening.
Lappin: That is correct. What's really — that doesn't mean it's not happened. It's just that we're not aware of it because, I mean, that's the whole issue here. It's impossible for us to monitor what's occurring on these contraband cell phones, and that's why we're looking for technology and other strategies to preclude that from happening, whether it's recruiting a terrorist or putting a hit on somebody or telling somebody to go down and slap their kid around a little bit. It doesn't matter what. None of it's appropriate, it's illegal, and we need to stop it.
Kennard: We have to know that even though we do not know it has happened, we have already been mentioning here that there is recruitment in the jails for terrorism, and we have to know that these cell phones are being used in that regard. We just don't have the ability to monitor what goes out, like we do with the mail, with visits and with the phones that we control.
Audience Member 3: Thank you.
Audience Member 4: The question is for any of the panelists. But what about facility shielding? I've heard the different technologies you're talking about. I don't know the cost factors in terms of facility shielding, but if you go down to Langley and you go to the CIA headquarters, if you go inside, you cannot make a cell phone call in there because the facility is shielded. If you go to U.S. embassies around the world, those facilities are shielded, at least the chief of staff in a station and different sections are.
So, one, is it a cost factor that that technology would not be considered? And, secondly, if it wasn't a cost factor, would not intercom, landline, walkie-talkies and whatnot, it will still allow you internal communications, but you would cut off cell phones effectively? I'm just curious.
Scrivner: OK. Any comments on that?
Kennard: Well, I think that when you start talking of shielding — and I'm not the technical expert, but that's a form of jamming, and if we end up doing that in a facility, we not only take out that phone, but we take out all of our first responders and take out everybody internal as well.
I know that what you speak about when I visit the CIA and some of these real high, top security places, basically my phone is gone, and my BlackBerry and everything else is gone. So this is a cost prohibitive issue for the majority of all of us to take it to the level that you're talking about. We'd love to be able to do that, but we also compromise our own people, and that's something that I as a sheriff just can't do.
Lappin: And I'm not sure if the legality of it. I'm not sure what permission they have, I'm certainly not the expert on it. But I would see it similarly.
Atlas: Yeah. And, in addition to that, my understanding is it's more expensive than these other technologies by an order of magnitude, so —
Kennard: It is.
Scrivner: Mm hmm. So a major class issue. Any other issues with it beyond cost?
Lappin: Obviously, it's another option to consider —
Lappin: — as we look at all these potential technologies that are available.
Atlas: The difficulty, you know, both with that and jamming is there are times, especially during, you know, riots or other emergencies where you're going to need calls coming into the prison for public safety reasons and a coordination of first responders. So that's something that makes shielding problematic.
Scrivner: OK. Our last question.
Audience Member 5: My question concerns the nitty gritty of cell construction in institutions. My cell phone is going to be useless in a couple of hours because the charge is wearing down. I need a charge. I need to recharge this.
As part of a multipronged approach, what is the setup in cells for electric outlets? If an inmate cannot recharge the phone —
Kennard: It's nonexistent.
Audience Member 5: — his phone is going to become useless until some confederate on the outside can bring him the right model battery. So can you — do not — are there outlets? Can they be removed or sealed up for high risk inmates whom you suspect are involved in this? How is that handled?
Maynard: In most prison systems in the country, there are outlets in the cells for radios or TVs.
Maynard: And fans. We talk about cell phones being smuggled in. They also smuggle in the chargers, so —
Lappin: And batteries.
Maynard: And batteries. So it would be good to turn off the chargers and let them all run down, but they smuggle in chargers and move those around.
Lappin: And batteries.
Iris: So inmates would routinely have access to outlets?
Lappin: In most of our — not all of them. In most of the institutions, especially those built years ago, you're going to have outlets. Most of these are not air conditioned. Many are in very warm climates. You're going to have the need for some type of electric outlet. Again, the higher security level, we have prisons that have limited outlets, but, again, they're air conditioned, and they're more expensive to build.
But, even if you didn't have that, inmates can get access to electricity. I mean, you've got to have electricity in the prison, and many of them work. I mean, the inmates do the work in these prisons. They are the ones doing the electrical work. They are the ones doing the maintenance under the supervision of an employee. So, whether you have it in their cell or not, they are going to get access to electric through the carrying out of their assignments, in other nonliving areas. So, although it would limit their access, they'll still have access.
Kennard: And whether we like it or not, the courts have determined that some of these prisoners do have some constitutional rights. So we have to provide certain things to them, whether we like it or not, such as electricity. Some of them don't have the air conditioning, and we have to give them something. We can't treat them like animals.
Scrivner: OK. Well, I think that's our last question. We talked about the complexity of this problem. We've gone from talking about cell phone towers on prison wall and prison facilities to plugs in the wall. So we've really covered the gamut.
Please join me in extending our thanks to a very good panel.
Scrivner: You all did a great job, and we're very appreciative, and thank all of you for your kind attention.
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Moderator: Ellen Scrivner, Deputy Director, National Institute of Justice Panelists:
Date Recorded: June 14, 2010