Georgia Attorney General Urges FCC to Allow Cell Phone Jamming in Prisons

Georgia Attorney General Urges FCC to Allow Cell Phone Jamming in Prisons

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr is calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to permit the use of cell phone jamming devices within state prisons and local jails. The FCC currently prohibits the use of cell phone jammers, and this restriction extends to state and local governments. However, contraband cell phones are frequently used in prisons and jails across the country to plan violent attacks and other criminal activities, posing significant safety risks to correctional officers, visitors, inmates, and the public.

“The easiest way to protect the public from the harms caused by contraband cell phones is to allow for the use of cell phone jamming technology in prisons and jails, but the FCC continues to block our efforts,” said Carr. “This outdated guidance limits legitimate law enforcement tools, presents dangerous conditions for correctional officers, and allows for the escalation of criminal networks both inside and outside prison walls. We’re committed to combatting violent crime wherever it occurs, which is why we continue to call on the federal government to remove this substantial barrier to public safety.”

In Georgia, 8,074 contraband cell phones were confiscated in 2023, and 5,482 have been confiscated so far in 2024. Notably, an incarcerated leader of the “Yves Saint Laurent Squad” gang used a contraband cell phone to order a hit resulting in the death of an 88-year-old Georgia veteran. In North Carolina, a gang leader ordered the kidnapping of a prosecutor’s father via a cell phone in prison, and in California, prison gangs used contraband cell phones to order murders and traffic drugs.

“There are hundreds of examples from across the country of how a contraband cell phone in the hands of an inmate can be used as a deadly weapon and gives them the ability to continue their criminal enterprise,” said Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Tyrone Oliver. “As attempts to infiltrate our facilities with contraband cell phones evolve, access to jamming technology is paramount in our efforts to combat those attempts. We appreciate the support of Attorney General Carr in our ongoing commitment to public safety and the safe operations of our facilities.”

Carr’s letter highlights that the FCC policy is based on a statute from the early 1990s, before the widespread use of contraband cell phones by inmates. He argues that nothing in the language of 47 U.S.C § 333 prohibits the FCC from revising its position to allow state agencies to use cell phone jamming devices in prisons. The United States Bureau of Prisons recognizes the potential value of cell phone jammers and is permitted to use them at several federal penitentiaries, including at least one in Georgia.

In January 2023, Carr joined a 22-state coalition of attorneys general urging Congressional leaders to pass legislation that would allow states to implement a cell phone jamming system in correctional facilities. Additionally, Carr’s Gang Prosecution Unit has partnered with the Georgia Department of Corrections to investigate and prosecute inmates engaged in criminal gang activity and the smuggling of contraband items into GDC facilities.

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