Phones in prisons

The New York Times reports on the growing number of smartphones in prisons, where phones are a federal felony that comes with a sentence of an extra year. They're helping prisoners connect with the outside world, organize and of course, post to their Facebook walls and tend their imaginary cows. Last month, a phone was found under Charles Manson's mattress in a California prison. Usually, relatives pay the service fees for the phones.

From the Times:

Although prison officials have long battled illegal cellphones, smartphones have changed the game. With Internet access, a prisoner can call up phone directories, maps and photographs for criminal purposes, corrections officials and prison security experts say. Gang violence and drug trafficking, they say, are increasingly being orchestrated online, allowing inmates to keep up criminal behavior even as they serve time.

There have been lots of ideas to try to put a stop to this, including jamming the signals in prisons, but cellphone industry isn't for that. Mississippi has a solution they've been trying out - monitor all activity on all calls, and texts, calls and so on that go out on phones not on an approved list are shut down. But, some organizations are trying to get prisons to embrace technology - these phones help prisoners stay in touch with a fast-changing world.

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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