ATLANTA – The Attorney General is urges Congressional leaders to pass federal legislation to combat contraband cell phones in prisons.
Attorney General Chris Carr, along with 21 other attorneys general, is urging Congressional leaders to pass legislation that would allow states to implement a cell phone jamming system in correctional facilities. Right now, federal law prohibits the use of jamming technology, including the jamming of cell phones. Meanwhile, contraband cellphones are being used in prisons across the country, with no way to block them.
“Our Gang Prosecution Unit and the Georgia Department of Corrections are working together to identify and prosecute those who are using contraband cell phones to engage in criminal activity while behind bars,” said Carr. “It is critical that Congress join in this fight by removing a substantial barrier that is simply allowing those inside the prison walls to continue committing crimes that negatively impact our communities. This is a nationwide issue that poses a significant risk to our correctional officers and the public at large, and we must do all we can to ensure that violent offenders have no method for causing additional harm from inside a prison cell.”
In November 2022, Carr announced the indictment of 17 alleged members of the 183 Gangster Bloods (1-8 Trey Bloods) in Barrow County. Two of those indicted are currently incarcerated in New York and Georgia and are alleged to be national and statewide leaders of the gang. While incarcerated, these two individuals are alleged to have engaged in electronic communications with other defendants and to have encouraged those defendants to participate in criminal activity in furtherance of the 183 Gangster Bloods enterprise. The defendants are further alleged to have engaged in discussions regarding the packaging and shipping of contraband items into a Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) facility, as well as the sale and distribution of controlled substances in Hays State Prison. This indictment was obtained by the Attorney General’s Gang Prosecution Unit following a large-scale investigation conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Gang Task Force and GDC’s Office of Professional Standards Investigative Division and Security Threat Group Unit.
“Cell phones in the hands of offenders is an ongoing safety concern, not only for Georgia, but for correctional agencies across the country,” said GDC Commissioner Tyrone Oliver. “We appreciate Attorney General Carr for his support in working to find solutions to this issue, which is paramount in our commitment to public safety.”
As of Jan. 1, 2023, GDC has conducted 126 full facility shakedowns, resulting in the removal of more than 23,000 contraband items. This includes 8,074 contraband cellphones confiscated last year alone.
In a letter sent on Jan. 25, 2023, the attorneys general outline the nationwide challenges associated with contraband cell phones.
The letter reads, in part: “[I]nmate use of contraband cell phones is one of the most serious issues facing prison administrators today. Inmates use contraband cell phones to organize murders, riots, drug deals, fraud, and much more. By utilizing contraband cell phones, inmates are easily able to continue their criminal activities from inside prison.”
Bills have been filed to address this issue in previous sessions, including H.R. 1954 in the 116th Congress and H.R. 864 and S. 4699 in the 117th Congress. However, these bills have not seen any movement and never received a vote.
In addition to Carr, the following states have also joined in signing the letter: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia.
Find a copy of the letter here .