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New technology stops hidden phones in prison

Could state prison inmates be directing crimes from behind bars? Thousands of them are hiding cell phones.

February 15, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
California is hoping new technology will stop inmates from using smuggled cell phones in prison.

It's become a huge problem. Nearly 11,000 smuggled phones were confiscated last year alone. Some were used to arrange extortions and assaults, while others were used by the likes of Charles Manson.

Manson became an unlikely face of the prison cell phone problem after he was caught calling and texting people in California, Florida, New Jersey and British Columbia. He had missed calls from Arkansas, Indiana and Massachusetts on the phone that guards discovered in March 2009, and he was caught with a second phone last month.

Corrections officials are now testing a system that would capture every cell signal from a prison and block those unauthorized calls.

California legislators are also considering three proposed changes to state law that would step up enforcement against cell phone violators in prison.