Attorney General Urges U.S. Senate Approval Of Bill To Allow States To Jam Inmates’ Cell Phones

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TRENTON – Attorney General Anne Milgram and Department of Corrections Commissioner George Hayman have written to Senate leaders, urging support for a bill that would allow states, with permission from the Federal Communications Commission, to install devices that would prevent or interfere with cell phone communications within specific correctional facilities.

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The letter was sent July 27 to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation chairman, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, and the ranking committee member, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

In the letter, Milgram and Hayman explain that as they work to remove violent gang offenders from the state’s communities, their efforts are undermined because imprisoned gang members can use illegal cell phones to communicate with gang members outside the prison in order to direct gang activities, intimidate witnesses or even plan escapes.  They cite one example where a conference call was intercepted involving two inmates in different prisons and a third inmate in a county jail who were plotting retaliation against another gang member.

Milgram remarked, “We are working cooperatively across all levels of law enforcement in New Jersey to target the command structures of violent street gangs.  By locking up gang leaders, we have been able to disrupt their criminal enterprises and substantially reduce the drug trafficking and gun violence in our communities. However, it is essential to our continued success that we prevent these leaders from using contraband cell phones to conduct business as usual from behind bars. This federal legislation is critical.”

Hayman added, “The ability to monitor and completely control inmate communications with others both inside and outside the correctional facility is one of the most important security tools at our disposal. While nothing will replace good correctional management and trained professional staff, additional technological support is needed to combat this challenge. The use of cell phone jamming technology is a cost-effective way to solve this problem.  As I have said in the past, I look forward to working with you and your colleagues to permit the FCC, upon request, to grant waivers of subsection (a) of the Communications Act and allow for the use of cell phone jamming devices at our prisons and jails.”


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