Prisons throughout the country face a number of serious threats. None of these is more pressing that the problems associated with contraband cellular devices falling into the hands of organized gang members. The damage that gangs can do with a simple cell phone is a horrific reminder of why many of these dangerous criminals have been locked up in the first place.
Contraband cell phones can undermine the justice system itself
The most serious consequence of prison gangs getting hold of contraband cellular devices is the ability of these dangerous criminals to seriously undermine the entire process of the U.S. justice system. Throughout the last two decades, after the advent of effective, handheld cell phones, gang members have capitalized on the easy concealability and long range of these devices to enable them to intimidate witnesses, continue earning money from drug dealing while incarcerated and even order hits on police, guards, judges and their families.
One such case illustrates just how dangerous contraband cell phones can be, once they slip into the wrong hands. Robert Johnson was a prison guard working in one of Florida’s most notorious maximum-security housing units. As a member of the prison’s SERT team, he was tasked with raiding inmates’ cells and confiscating any contraband that was found.
On one particular raid, Johnson uncovered a package that contained an estimated $50,000 worth of drugs. These drugs would have certainly been sold within the prison itself, endangering the lives of inmates and officers as well as providing a dangerous prison gang with a large amount of illicit profits.
The intended recipient of the package found out that it was Johnson who was responsible for its confiscation. Using a contraband cell phone that had been smuggled into the prison through complicit guards, the leadership of the gang communicated with a soldier on the outside of prison. One morning, as Johnson was preparing himself for his shift, the soldier kicked in Johnson’s front door and stormed into his home, unloading six shots into Johnson’s torso.
Clinging to life for over a month, Johnson barely survived. After 23 surgeries and years of intense pain, he is slowly recovering from the near-death incident. Today, Johnson works as a consultant for the nation’s leading provider of prison communications and safety installations, Securus Technologies. He is travelling the country, raising awareness about Securus’ Wireless Containment System, which has the proven capability to detect and deny nearly 100 percent of all illicit cellular calls placed from within a prison’s walls.
The Wireless Containment System has completely transformed the prisons in which it is deployed, dropping the number of outgoing illegal phone calls to zero. This is a tremendous boost to the safety of prisons and society itself.