Incarceration services sector is in many ways a neglected area by government departments, and the officials working in prison departments face the heat and struggle the most. Many inmates are part of different gangs, and often they pose different sorts of challenges and threats to the officials. Timely intervention is highly unlikely as the lag of governmental policies and approvals often create a danger to the officials. Many times, the steps of correction departments are not proactive but reactionary. Here, I need to bring the attention of one of the most alarming issues of American jails in the recent years – the use of contraband cell phones by the inmates.
Often, officials face the physical and mental abuses by the inmates if they try to implement strict rules or try to control people, especially gang members. I want to share the story of Robert Johnson, a former correction officer from South Carolina. In 2010, he faced a deadly attack at his home for capturing a packet of contraband phones that was deemed to a gang inside the jail. The members of the gang contacted their friends who are outside the prison using contraband phones, and within two weeks, Johnson faced the deadly gunshots at his home.
Since then, Johnson dedicated his efforts to control contraband phones inside the prison – the biggest danger to prison security and safety. Earlier this year, he explained the need of controlling the contraband phones before the telecom regulator, Federal Communications Commission. Currently, Johnson works with Securus Technologies – a leading technology firm in the incarceration sector – as a paid consultant. Interestingly, the leader in prison technology has developed a unique Wireless Containment System to control such phones. It is working in the line of literally deploying a network, irrespective of the carrier network, and filter calls according to the set preferences.
Wireless Containment System, which is generally called as WCS, has got tremendous attention in the recent years. I have noticed that it is the only contraband cellphone interdiction technology that is found to be producing efficient results in live correction environment. Even FCC has started acting proactively and recently approved streamlining of the process for the prison departments and facilities to avail interdiction technologies like WCS. The newly adopted process significantly removes paper works and other communications required among the carriers.
With the increased incidents of attacks towards prison officials and their relatives in the recent years, people across the spectrum even started demanding the legislators to adopt smart technologies like WCS in the correctional centers. Interestingly, Securus Technologies recently published the data of WCS that showed the technology blocked more than 1.7 million unauthorized communication attempts from just eight prisons in the country. Interestingly, this data was for a period of one year from July 2016.