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California Moves Closer to Banning Mobile Phones in Prisons

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California's Public Safety Committee has approved a new bill that aims to crack down on smuggling of mobile phones into the State's prisons. The new law includes tough penalties for both smugglers and inmates. Current law does not provide any criminal or financial sanctions for smuggling cell phones to inmates.

"Violent inmates with cell phones are a clear and present threat to public safety. Cell phones are used by inmates to commit all sorts of crimes - to intimidate witnesses, terrorize rape victims, plan escapes, coordinate attacks on guards, and the list goes on and on. Cell phones in the hands of prisoners results in real crimes in real time in our communities," said Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), who proposed the new bill.

The bill will now need to be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee before it can proceed towards being a law.

Under the terms of the proposed bill, any person who possesses a cell phone with the intent to deliver, or delivers, to an inmate would be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by six months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000 per device.

In addition, an inmate in possession of a cell phone shall be subject to loss of time credits. Time credit lost will not be eligible for restoration.

The number of cell phones confiscated in our prisons has grown exponentially. In 2006, prison officials confiscated 261 cell phones in California prisons. In 2009, 6,995 cell phones were confiscated. Last year, 10,761 phones were confiscated. In just the first two months of this year, 2,112 contraband cell phones have been confiscated. Charles Manson has been caught twice in possession of a cell phone.

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