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Mobile phones in prisons raise growing concerns

A woman uses a cell phone outside a prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) introduced legislation in 2009 that would legalize technology to jam any cell phone signal coming out of a prison. The bill never made it into law but she is pursuing a similar course in the latest session. This despite a new report by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration that says such technology can interfere with 911 calls and disrupt service for people outside of the prisons.

It's a debate you'll be hearing a lot more of in the future since there seem to be more cell phones flooding into prisons all the time, even though generally prisoners aren't allowed to have such devices. Efforts to head off phones before they reach inmates don't seem to do much good so everyone's searching for a technology that will stop crimes from being committed but allow legal phone service to take place.

Amit Malhotra thinks he has a way. His company, Tecore, has introduced a network access controller that essentially blocks and replaces service from major wireless carriers. We talk to Malhotra about how it works.

We also talk to Martin Horn, a former commissioner of the New York City Department of Corrections. He discusses the urgency that the prison system is feeling to deal with what's becoming an avalanche of phones inside the walls.

Also in this show, on a much less serious note, and in a story that matters to practically no one but we thought it was interesting, Lady Gaga has introduced sunglasses that take pictures. I know, seems silly in light of the prison thing, right? Well, that's technology sometimes.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.

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