Senator Lankford Pushing For Cellphone Jamming In Prisons
OKLAHOMA CITY - U.S. Senator James Lankford is pushing for cellphone jamming technology to be used in prisons in Oklahoma and around the country. But he says he’s getting pushback, because of very powerful cellphone lobbyists.
Every year thousands of cellphones are snuck into Oklahoma prisons. Gangs use them to organize violent attacks outside prison walls, drug dealers use them to conduct business from inside their cells, felons use them to intimidate witnesses or threaten corrections officers, and child predators have used them to talk with kids.
DOC officials showed News 9 dozens of boxes filled with almost 50,000 phones seized from Oklahoma prisoners since 2011. They’re brought in through prison kitchens, thrown over fences, snuck in during visitations and smuggled in by unscrupulous corrections officers and prison workers.
This week, Senator Lankford addressed the problem on the Senate floor.
“An individual who was a murderer while he’s in the state penitently used smuggled cell phones to direct other to distribute methamphetamine for him across all of northeastern Oklahoma. He’s running a meth ring with his cell phone inside the prison,” said Senator Lankford.
Technology exists to jam cellphone signals in prisons, but Federal law doesn’t allow it. Instead, Lankford says, the FCC just conducts study after study.
“You want to know the summary of the last study that came out on cellphones in prisons and jamming it? The study basically came out and said we need more study on this issue,” Senator Lankford.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh says he’s made several trips to Washington to try to convince lawmakers to allow jammers in prisons, but he says lawmakers continually cave to cellphone lobbyists. He says the technology is such that the jamming signals would be confined to prisons only, and not impact near-by homes and businesses.
“Most people don’t live next door to a prison. Most of our facilities are very rural,” said Allbaugh. “We’ve lost enough officers nationwide even here in Oklahoma, because of contraband that is driven by cellphones. And I want to put a stop to it.”