Kennedy, Cotton, Graham introduce bill to stop contraband cellphone use among prisoners

“State and federal correctional facilities need ‘cellphone blockers’ to better protect inmates, correctional officers and the general public.”

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in introducing the Cell Phone Jamming Reform Act to combat the use of contraband cellphones in federal and state prison facilities. This bill would allow state and federal prisons to use cellphone jamming technology to disrupt the signals of contraband cellphones.

“Contraband cellphones have helped prisoners coordinate drug trafficking, smuggling schemes and business deals all from the confines of their cells. State and federal correctional facilities need ‘cellphone blockers’ to better protect inmates, correctional officers and the general public,” said Kennedy.

Contraband cellphones are widespread among prisoners in both federal and state prison facilities. Inmates have used these cellphones to conduct illegal activities including ordering murders outside of prison walls, running illegal drug operations, conducting illicit business deals, facilitating sex trafficking and organizing prison escapes.

The Cell Phone Jamming Reform Act would:

  • Allow state and federal prisons to use jamming systems to interfere with cellphone signals within the housing facilities of prison inmates.
  • Require the state or federal facility that implements a jamming system to report such use to the Bureau of Prisons, which will have the ultimate authority over the system, and notify local law enforcement before implementing the technology.
  • Allow prison facilities to choose from a broad category of jamming technology, while not requiring that facilities use specific types of technology. Such choices of technology would include managed access technology, surgical jamming technology, beacon technology or any future technology that would curb the use of contraband cellphones.

Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.) previously introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

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