Governor Kevin Stitt signs an executive order requiring the Department of Corrections to come up with solutions after carefully coordinated prison fights two weeks ago forced a statewide lockdown.
Inmates were able to do it with illegally smuggled in cellphones. The plan is to find a way to disable or locate the phones behind bars.
“And then you don’t have what we had over two weeks ago, which is individuals using cellphones to coordinate violence at six different prisons from one corner of the state to the other in a span of 15 minutes. Injured 36 people. Killed one other person,” said Matt Elliott with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
This year, the Department of Corrections has already seized more than 4,700 phones from inmates. Last year, they found almost 7,000. They’re tossed into prison yards or smuggled in by guests, vendors, and even prison guards, and they often sell for $2,000 a piece or more on the inside.
“If you make those phones worthless then obviously, you’re not going to have a problem with them. No one is going to want to bring them on the yard anymore. And that’s part of what this order is going to do. We’re going to find the technology to solve this technological problem,” said Elliott.
Governor Kevin Stitt signed an executive order requiring the Secretary of Public Safety and the Secretary of Digital Transformation and Administration to work with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections on high tech solutions, like cellphone jammers and locators.
“That’s gonna be great. That’s going to go a long ways towards solving our number one security problem,” said Elliott. “The technology absolutely exists. It’s been used in other prison systems across the country.”
And prison officials said maybe it could have prevented the statewide lockdown we saw just two weeks ago.
“It is likely that this would not have happened. We would not have had it on this level,” said Elliott. “They certainly wouldn’t have been able to coordinate it within 15 minutes from Fort Supply all the way to Atoka.”