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Case Study of Mississippi State Penitentiary's Managed Access Technology

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2015
102 pages
This case study of the use of "managed access technology" to counter the use of contraband cell phones by inmates in Mississippi's State penitentiary (MSP) focuses on this technology's capability, functionality, and impact on contraband cell phone use.
Managed access technology allows the completion of authorized calls placed from approved phone numbers (numbers that have been vetted and entered into a database) while blocking calls to or from devices or numbers that have not been pre-approved. This process is often referred to as "white-listing." The overall conclusion of this study is that managed access technology does capture a large quantity of cellular transmissions, but it is impossible to determine the rate with which attempted calls or texts successfully elude detection by the system. Even if a hypothetical rate of successful transmission detection was only 40 percent, however, that 40 percent would provide a substantial value-added effect to combating contraband cell phones. Thus, the decision about whether or not to use managed access technology is whether its possibly limited impact (blocking less than 100 percent of contraband calls) is sufficient to warrant the cost of installing and maintaining the managed access system. A series of interviews and teleconferences, in addition to the secondary analysis of managed-access system data, were used to produce a fundamental understanding of managed access technology operations, identify challenges and lessons learned, and develop a baseline of contraband cell phone activity. This report acknowledges that the study did not attempt to quantify potential vulnerabilities or manipulations of managed access systems. Although such an evaluation would be beneficial, it was beyond the scope of this study. 18 figures, 13 tables, 40 references, and appended examples of contraband cell phone activity, MSP managed access system infrastructure, and evaluation protocols

Date Published: August 1, 2015