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Strategies to Combat Inmate Cell Phone Use Gaining Steam

Over that past two years, GovWin's Justice & Public Safety team has kept a close eye on the movement to utilize technology that prevents inmates from using cell phones in prison. Today, we highlight three notable projects making headlines lately.

On August 24, 2010, the state of California released a request for information (RFI) for Cell Phone Interdiction. The state seeks vendor demonstrations on technology to prohibit the use of cell phones at state prisons. RFI responses were due September 7, 2010. The California state prison system is by far the largest in the nation and successful implementation of either cell phone blocking or detection technology could set the standard nationwide. GovWin Opp ID 57656.

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services has a goal to procure a system that targets the location of cell phones within jails. While many jails use more traditional tools, such as metal detectors and dogs, this system could electronically detect the presence of a cell phone. Proposals were released in June 2010 and due October 1, 2010, although the State has indicated to GovWin that the due date may be extended. GovWin Opp ID 64469.

Since August 6, 2010, the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman has utilized a managed access system that functions as a hybrid between cell phone detection and cell phone jamming. This system functions at the cell tower, deciphers between authorized and unauthorized cell numbers, and prevents unauthorized calls from being transmitted to the cell carrier's system. This access system essentially stops the call at the source. GovWin Opp ID 58714.

As the FCC continues to debate the merits of allowing cell phone jamming technologies, it will be interesting to observe whether more states continue to go their own route in using technology to combat cell phone use in prison, or wait for the FCC's final word.

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