The Arkansas Division of Corrections examines cellphone jamming options to combat illicit cellphone activities within its prisons.
The Board of Corrections discussed multiple options during its meeting Friday at the McPherson Unit in Newport, including the potential use of cellphone jamming equipment at facilities.
Friday’s meeting was the first in-person meeting held at a unit since the covid-19 pandemic began.
Board members discussed cellphone jamming technology at length, with some suggesting contacting the state’s attorney general’s office to see if a lawsuit could be filed against the federal government to allow the equipment to be used in Arkansas prisons.
In turn due to the lack of concern for inmate health, I would encourage every inmate at facilities where these cellphone jammers are implemented to file a lawsuit against the DOC.
Health effects of cellphone jammers on staff and inmates
One thing they did not discuss was the health concerns that would face the inmates there from long-term exposure to electromagnetic radiation that these cellphone jammers emit constantly. I put staff in the title because I find very few care about inmate health at the end of the day, so it’s worth noting that it would also affect the staff.
Electromagnetic radiation in radio frequency range emitted from mobile phone jammers may lead to decreased motility and increased DNA fragmentation in human semen. It can be concluded that mobile phone jamming might exert adverse reproductive health effects.International Journal of Radiation Research
DOC chairman cites rape victims in support of his argument
“People will think cellphones aren’t a big deal and they should have them, but the problem is what if they call a victim using that phone?” Board of Corrections Chairman Benny Magness said. “What if the person is calling a rape victim? It’s things like this you have to think about.”
Benny thinks everyone is stupid or is not that intelligent himself. based on his statement and attempted justification for installing cancer-causing cellphone jammers.
Even in a maximum security facility, if someone wants to get a message to someone else, be it a gang leader at Pelican Bay ordering a murder on the street or a regular inmate trying to contact his family because he has been deprived of visitation, email, and in some cases letters for over a year, they are going to be able to do that.
The fact that the DOC cannot stop the flow of cellphones into their facility, even when the facility is on COVID lockdown, is their problem. Cellphone jammers are not the remedy needed, but rather running their facility correctly, is the key. Since the flow cannot be subscribed to the inmates in the case of a lockdown, only one other party can be blamed: Staff.
Installing cellphone jammers is not going to stop that. Picking a highly sensitive topic to discuss to elicit emotions from people to agree with him is just plain manipulative.
The topic arose after Magness noted that a report showed that the number of illegal cellphones seized from inmates had dropped significantly compared with previous years. The report said 862 cell phones were confiscated in the fiscal year 2021 compared with 1,420 in the fiscal year 2020 and 1,796 in the fiscal year 2019.
Magness said he found that hard to believe because cellphone activity has been a consistent problem within the prison system. COVID has existed for all of these years. A safe bet that a few corrections staff are driving BMWs and sports cars should someone drive past their facilities.
Even from an ariel photograph, we can see some sports cars, and some with racing stripes on them:
DOC Secretary blames the inmates
Instead of accepting responsibility and figuring out how thousands of phones are coming into the prison (and being confiscated), the DOC Secretary subscribed the issue to a lack of staff.
Department of Corrections Secretary Solomon Graves said cellphone usage probably hadn’t gone down and that staff members who are stretched thin have less time to do aggressive searches for contraband. The fact that these are all assumptions and guesswork reflects the fact that they have no clue about what’s going on inside the facilities they are supposed to be responsible for.
Board member John Felts asked if it were possible for the prison system to use cellphone-jamming technology to help curb the problem.
Graves said state prisons could get secondary towers installed at facilities that target phones in the area and degrade the ability to make calls but noted that the cellphone jamming towers aren’t foolproof.
Because your typical cellphone jammer, if it’s not an industrial unit, is only suitable for about 30 feet. You would be talking about installing a TON of radiation-emitting cellphone jammers in a unit OR installing a few units that pump electromagnetic radiation directly at the unit. Either way, I am sure we will see a significant spike in cancer rates in a decade or two because the DOC board does not know how to do their jobs, and based on their assumptions.
“South Carolina used it, but found it didn’t justify the price,” he said.
Graves said the price is why he wants to implement a full jamming system that can turn phones into “bricks” in certain areas. Still, he said that concept faces opposition from cellular lobbyists who argue the jammer might bleed over and affect private citizens.
More failed justifications for the implementation of Cellphone Jammers
“The issue is that private citizens aren’t in our facility,” he said. Visitors to the prison do not count in their eyes.
Cellphone jamming at federal and state prisons has been an issue for several years.
Currently, federal law prohibits the operation, marketing, or sale of any jamming equipment that interferes with authorized radio communications, including cellphones.
Local law enforcement agencies do not have independent authority to use jamming equipment. In certain limited exceptions, use by federal law enforcement agencies is authorized in accordance with applicable statutes.
The fact that a prison want’s to circumvent the law when they are the ones that are supposed to be housing the people that have done this in the past shows the absolute hippocracy of the DOC’s board of directors.
U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, attempted to pass a bill in 2019 that would have changed the law to allow jammers at prison facilities, but it failed.
The Federal Communications Commission discussed the idea of allowing state prisons across the country more technological options to combat contraband cellphones. Still, broad cell signal jamming was not discussed.
U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Arkansas, also mentioned on social media that he had discussed targeted cellphone jamming with Graves during an event in Washington, D.C.
Magness said another reason cellphones are problematic within prisons is the need to track what is being said during phone calls. Supposedly cellphone jammers would solve this issue.
“There are certain words that are flagged in calls that come to our attention that need to be monitored,” he said. Yes, and that system is totally foolproof. No one comes up with coded communication or sends a letter instead of calling. The absolute idiocracy of the Arkansas DOC board members is shown in this one meeting.
Graves said he believed the FCC concerns were unwarranted. Companies such as Walmart use geolocation technology to track someone when they pick up groceries or send advertisements to them while inside the store. He said that access to cellular phones could be pinpointed and accurate.
“Let us use the same technology as the big box stores,” Graves said. “Let us map out our facility by the feet to ensure that if you are in that bubble, then your phone won’t work.” The issue with this statement is that the “big box stores” use RFID technology, which is different from commercial-grade cellphone jammers. Also, people at those “big box stores” don’t live there for years or decades at a time.
Dr. William “Dubs” Byers said he had heard some federal prisons have cellphone jamming technology. The fact that he “heard” this is equal to the fact that all facilities have it, evidenced by his following statement.
“How do they have the ability to block phones but they won’t give the states the same ability?” he said.
As someone who has been an inmate in a federal facility within the last year or so, I can say that the prison I was at did NOT have this ability. Probably because it’s illegal, as cited above.
Magness suggested that officials consider meeting with the attorney general to see if filing a lawsuit could lead to the prison system being allowed to implement jamming equipment. Ironic isn’t it that they have the money to file a federal lawsuit but cannot hire enough staff to do “aggressive searches”.
The Board of Corrections also approved using the Emergency Powers Act to expedite the release of 101 women prisoners on the act’s 90-day list to address overcrowding and using the Emergency Powers Act to expedite the release of 114 total inmates (98 men and 16 women) to address overcrowding in county jails, which is a pathetic number in comparison to the number of people that are currently incarcerated in the state prisons and county jails there.
A solution? Stop incarcerating people at record rates prevent them from having any contact with their families. Pretty simple. You don’t have to give everyone in the jail and prison system cancer with cellphone jammers running constantly, because you cannot do your job.