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back to article Prison boss demands right to jam inmates' cellphones...

South Carolina's state prison chief Jon Ozmint is fighting for the right to deploy mobile phone jammers, in order to prevent criminals from staying in touch while they're out of circulation. Ozmint believes it's impossible to control the flow of handsets into the prison even with random cell and body searches, and that mobes are …

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tis a problem

Back in Blighty it's a headache as well (even from from a bleeding heart liberal prison chaplaincy perspective like mine). Jamming signals seems the obvious answer - though one might mitigate the problem by reducing the extortionate pay phone rates for prisoners to phone home; one short call takes their whole weekly income.

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Paris Hilton

Simple

Pass a local law making it illegal to use a mobile phone in a prison, thus there won't be any legitimate mobile traffic and the jamming law is nicely circumvented. (Hell, they're even using jammers in call centres over here to stop the operators slacking off...)

Paris 'cos well,

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Boffin

A Solution!

Stick a large speaker outside their rooms attached to an amplifier and coil of wire. Just listten out for the loudest one. Or hook it up to a PC / ADC / etc and find the highest induced current. Costs wouldn't be horrendous and no laws are broken.

Or give the guards mobile-phone-frequency-tuned unidirectional aerials and let them do a sweep every so often.

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Flame

Wider use

Could we put jamming technology in cinemas and theatre's?

I miss the days of being pissed off by the cretins rustling their sweet packets as they try to starve off starvation during a 90 performance. Nowdays, it's a case of "Yeah, I'm at the movies, innit!"

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Flame

Does Bill Ray work in "Mobe"?

Or do you prefer "Mobile"?

Well in that case, you can bloody well type "mobile" when you're talking about telephones as well. It's not difficult and nobody calls them "mobes" anyway.

Grrr.

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Boffin

Surely a much better idea ...

Surely a much better idea is to set up an in-prison base-station and tap all outgoing calls. It shouldn't be hard to get a warrant, there is near-certainty that they are all evidence of a crime, that of a mobile having been smuggled into the jail. Calls from outside could be distinguished and not intercepted using mobile-triangulation to see that the phone is not inside the walls. In the same way it might even be possible to pin-point which prison cell the call is coming from!

Use any evidence of more serious criminality against the criminals who are continuing to run gangs, drugs operations, etc. from inside. As for the lags who are just chatting to relatives, either let them carry on or just disconnect those hand-sets from the network.

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Paris Hilton

Cleverer methods?

Blanket jamming would work (but I wouldn't want to be the person that has to go through every nook and cranny of the prison making sure that there are no unjammed "livespots")

"Cleverer solutions" would probably be fairly quickly met with hacked, "cleverer" handsets that lock on to the second strongest source, thereby bypassing the local "goes nowehere" base station.

Paris, 'cos she has experience of mobiles and prison

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Paris Hilton

errm

What legitimate use would a prisoner have for a mobile?

Since they have already broken societys' rules and are in prison to be punished by a removal of freedom why would society have an interest in allowing them to have another form of freedom.

I am also confused as to why prisoners feel they have a right to anything anyway.

It wasn't too long ago that at least the more serious offenders would be permanently prevented from causing any harm whatsoever to anyone.

ttfn

PH 'cos you never can tell when technology might get misused.

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Pirate

"Simple is the best."

Just make sure there aren't any live power sockets available to prisoners. The phones will run out of charge eventually - just make sure the inmates can't charge them.

To accelerate the process, paint the windows with mobile-unfriendly tint - and put up some corrugated iron cladding on the walls, to help sheild the place from signals as much as possible.

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Stale news

The Irish Prison Service is now jamming mobile phone signals in prisons. It followed a scandal where a prisoner rang a national radio programme from his cell.

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Go

Don't jam it

Install the base station and have all calls directed through the prison switchboard. Any legitimate call can still be made, but an inmate would have to be particularly inventive to scam a call through.

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@Matthew

They tried jamming phone signals in French cinemas. It worked well, but a few people kicked up a fuss about missing "emergency" calls, so the cinemas stopped jamming.

A friend has a phone jammer, a personal one with a range of 10 metres, which he regularly uses on the designated quiet carriage when traveling by train. It's illegal to use one in the UK, but legal to own ( a bit like the law on police band scanners and speed camera detectors ). In the US, it's an offence to even own one, with sentences up to 11 years!

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IT Angle

Why not remove from the prison library...

...books on how to learn Morse Code, or keeping carrier pigeons.

Sodding Hell, can't they fucking think?? Anyone capable of organising an escape is well clever enough to learn morse code - no torchlight, just a white or mirrored object 'flashed*' from the window.

Oh, better still, ban windows*.

*There's the IT angles.

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Faraday?

Can't the calls just be jammed using a Faraday cage? Coat the prison in chicken wire and pretend it's for security.

Failing that, maybe put up a sign saying 'no mobiles'.

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Thumb Down

What's the problerm exactly?

As far as I know prisoners are still covered by the first amendment. They should be a lot more worried about of drugs and weapons. Presumably if they can't keep phones out they're missing much more important things too.

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Unhappy

Indeed

I have "friend" who has a jammer which "he" uses on train when he doesn't want to listen to peoples inane whittering about their personal lives and it's great but also very illegal. Anyone who's been to a London cinema in the last month knows why they should be legalised.

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Paris Hilton

Couple of ideas...

Let the TSA do the searches - this would give them a little actual practice in finding things that are being smuggled in, rather than the usual 'security theater' that is the case in the airports.

Use signal triangulation to find out where exactly the mobiles are, and therefore which prison cells to search.

Check the operators for mobiles which are ALWAYS connected to masts in the vicinity - almost nobody but a prisoner will NEVER leave the area. Then go after those SIMMs - get the numbers and find out who they are calling / texting. Should give a pretty good idea of who has the phone.

In the last resort they could take a lesson from the Afghans - point guns aggressively at the mobile operators until they shut down the masts, perhaps even blow a few up...

Why Paris? - read the last few words again...

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Black Helicopters

Solution?

Set up a base station that all calls must go through from within the prison. Install a low-level jamming field so that the "second strongest" source isn't available. Require a PIN to be entered for a call to be connected. If the PIN is entered incorrectly, say 3 times, the station should no longer accept calls from that ESN (handset) Or allow them to connect but record the call automatically if a bogus PIN is entered.

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Anonymous Coward

Sounds like a job for...

The Taleban, they've managed to reduce mobile telephony in Afghanistan.

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@Tim Schomer

"Pass a local law making it illegal to use a mobile phone in a prison"

OK, so i'm a lawyer visiting my client in prison and I can't call out....hello????

OK, so i'm a prison official in an emergency situation and I can't call out....hello???

@nigel - tap all outgoing calls... A clear violation of just about as many laws as you can count.

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Silver badge

Er...

Jam them where, exactly?

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Coat

What we need now ...

... is a giant aluminium foil deflector beanie, large enough to be lowered over the entire prison!

http://zapatopi.net/afdb

Problem solved!

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hello, is this thing on?

"first amendment" HELLO? They sure as hell lost their 2nd amendment right I hope. I'm guessing they lost 3rd and certainly 4th amendment rights.. I think the 13th is also out the door. Just because you are a citizen doesn't mean you get to do what you want anytime, anywhere.

They're in f^&#^&@*king prison. Not a Holiday Inn Express!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No TV, no cell phones, no electrical outlets, no radios, books and magazines if you're real nice. They should be making gravel out in a desert, or planting trees on a hillside or something. We could send them to some 3rd world country to help them plough the fields by hand.

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Anonymous Coward

@nigel - tap all outgoing calls... A clear violation of just about as many laws as you can count.

Um nope . not in Prisons. In the US you can monitor prisoners phone calls with out a warrant.

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Anonymous Coward

Jamm them!

http://www.thesignaljammer.com

Bounty is correct - they're INMATES, not hotel guests. There is no reason not to block cellular signals on prison grounds for the safety of correctional workers as well as the public at large. In this case public safety far outweighs this antiquated law that needs to be updated to keep up with the changing face of technology.

Inmates have forfeited certain rights by becoming convicted felons, and their calls, letters, and visits ARE monitored.

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Bronze badge

A Second Legal Solution

In addition to making the prison a Faraday cage, why not simply locate it in an area without cell phone coverage? This would also make it harder for prisoners to escape. Of course, that may not be an option in the more densely populated states; but if there was no base station of any kind within 10 miles of the prison, the problem would be solved.

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Simpler solution

Just pass a law making it illegal to operate mobile phone antennas within operating range of the prison. Voilà, instant dead area. Since the prison authorities most likely use landlines, no problem for them. Just the inmates don't get a connection, and no federal laws apply. Anybody living a reasonable distance from the prison (and generally speaking, non-inmates in the U.S. tend to do that) should still be able to get a connection good enough for everyday use.

On the other hand, the idea of using the cellphone against the cellmate's mates by intercepting any calls has a certain charm... if the evidence gathered can be used in court to add more felons to the prisons' rosters. Otherwise, waste of effort.

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IT Angle

This & that and midnight calls from death row

Hell, SC has it easy. Last week a state senator here (in Tejas) said that he has received several calls from an inmate on death row, of all places. IIRC, the inmate in question is scheduled for a face-to-face with God next week, so he won't need his much longer.

Civil rights? Got none. If you've been convicted of a felony, you can not own a firearm (ever), get a passport, vote, touch your naughty bits in public (oops, never mind).

Phone calls from prison are a very sore point for COs. Many gangs continue to run effectively long after the leadership is sent away.

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