Tuesday, March 22, 2011
A bill that would punish people who smuggle cell phones in to prisoners has passed its first test in the California legislature.
The measure by Democratic Senator Alex Padilla would punish cell phone smugglers – employees or visitors – with up to six months in prison and up to a $5,000 fine per device. The bill has bipartisan support and passed its first committee unanimously. Padilla said the phones are a real threat to public safety.
“We don’t just suspect, we know that cell phones are being used by inmates to commit all sorts of crimes,” Padilla said. “To intimidate witnesses, to terrorize rape victims, to plan escapes from prison, to coordinate attacks on guards; the list goes on and on.”
Inmates caught with phones would face the loss of up to six months of “good time” credits. Padilla said last year more than 10,000 phones were confiscated. A similar bill was vetoed last year by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who said it wasn’t tough enough.