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No More "Cell" Phones

NCJ Number
Corrections Today
Date Published
April 2006
1 page

This article presents four main strategies for overcoming the use of forbidden cell phones in correctional facilities.


Cell phones are not permitted in prisons yet their ever-shrinking size means many of them are smuggled into prisons and used by inmates for illicit purposes. Four main approaches have been identified to deal with the cell phone problem: (1) locate and confiscate cell phones through the use of detection technology; (2) overpower the cell phone signal with a stronger signal, commonly referred to as “jamming;” (3) trick the cell phone into reacting as if there is no service; and (4) intercept the signal, which requires a judge’s order. The simplest option is signal detection which carries no regulatory or legal restrictions. Since all cell phones use radio frequency (RF) antenna power, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), and the Naval Surface Warfare Center-Dahlgren are launching a multi-year project to develop technology to detect RF and to evaluate and test existing technologies. The resulting information will ultimately be included in a report that recommends the next technology development steps for the NIJ. Contact information is presented to learn more about the BOP’s research into cell phone use by inmates and NIJ’s involvement.

Date Published: April 1, 2006