Friday, February 4, 2011
SACRAMENTO, Calif. There’s a new push at the state Capitol to keep cell phones out of the hands of inmates. Prison officials say it’s a rapidly growing problem, and inmates use the phones to launder money and harass victims.
Democratic Senator Alex Padilla has introduced a bill that creates harsher penalties for inmates caught with phones, and those who smuggle them in. His legislation makes it a misdemeanor to smuggle a phone into prison. He says the punishment would also include a major fine, which would be a deterrent.
“The fines for people smuggling phones into prison, at five-thousand per device, really translates into 18 or 19-thousand dollars per device with all of the surcharges,” Padilla said. “We do believe that’s a significant enough consequence to make people do more than just think twice about it.”
Padilla’s bill also includes extra prison time for inmates who use phones to commit crimes. Another Senator has introduced a bill to require random searches of staff and vendors.
Serial killer Charles Manson was recently found with a mobile phone in his California prison cell. Padilla says that shows how out-of- control the problem is.