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Cell Phone Forensics Can Play a Key Role in Gathering Intelligence

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2015
2 pages
Publication Series

This paper presents an overview of the background and contents of a new publication, "Cell Phone Forensics in a Correctional Setting Guidebook," which suggests how correctional agencies can develop forensics programs for analyzing the content of illegal cell phones used by residents of correctional facilities.


The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) funded the development of the publication, which involved a 3-year effort that consisted of a market survey of hardware and software, literature reviews, Internet searches, and meetings with subject-matter experts (some experienced in cell phone forensics) and skilled technologists. The main conclusion of the publication is that corrections administrators should implement forensics in their facilities, so they can obtain evidence of criminal acts from illegal cell phones possessed by inmates. The guide argues against the common practice of disposing of illegal cell phones confiscated from inmates. Instead, the phones should be subjected to the latest forensic methods for examining cell phones for evidence of criminal behavior. Also, data on these phones can assist in identifying links between inmates and individuals in the community who could then assist in identifying corrections officers and civilians who smuggle the phones into the facilities. The guidebook provides links to sample policies and procedures, including summaries of successful prosecutions based largely on cell-phone evidence. Given the number of inmate cell phones confiscated, the guidebook suggests that select correctional staff be trained in cell-phone forensics and be equipped with state-of-the-art software for obtaining and analyzing the contents of various types of cell phones.

Date Published: May 1, 2015