Detecting and Eradicating Contraband Cell Phones is a Matter of Public Safety
Jeffrey B. Haidinger, President & Chief Operating Officer, GTL
PRNewsWire – In 2010, former Corrections Captain Robert Johnson was shot six times in an attempted contract killing orchestrated via a contraband cell phone. He survived the ordeal and recently wrote about the dangers of contraband cell phones in The Post and Courier.
Captain Johnson is correct. Cell phones are a particularly dangerous form of contraband, and they have morphed into a national epidemic and a serious public safety issue. As he said, “they are often used to organize protests, plan escapes, intimidate witnesses, facilitate the sale of weapons and drugs, and orchestrate murders from behind bars.” It is not only corrections staff who are at risk, but the general public as well.
In November 2016, the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) sent a letter to the FCC citing examples of the horrific crimes that have been committed because an inmate had access to a contraband cellphone. In their letter, the ASCA asked for the FCC to take immediate action and said that these forbidden cellphones infiltrating correctional facilities nationwide are a “dire public safety threat.”
As recently as early July 2017, a convicted kidnapper escaped a maximum-security prison in South Carolina using a contraband cell phone to coordinate the delivery of wire cutters via a drone. While he was later apprehended, this is a huge threat to public safety. This incident occurred almost a week after South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) Director Bryan P. Stirling and other policy makers went before the U.S. Department of Justice and the FCC asking them to take action to defeat contraband cell phones for the safety of their corrections officers, employees, and for the public at large. Technology partners to Corrections like GTL support and share in the concerns recently expressed by the ASCA, SCDC Director Stirling, and other correctional administrators.
The FCC is not the only organization that must participate in solving this problem. Wireless carriers must realize their important role in closing the gap on this public safety issue. Much like the public-private partnership these carriers formed to build and execute the AMBER Alert System, wireless carriers have the resources to help solve the contraband cell phone problem in the immediate future.
Unless wireless carriers take an active role and work with the FCC and the corrections community to solve this problem, security incidents of all kinds will continue to occur. Wireless carriers have a crucial role to play when it comes to building a solution that truly promotes public safety by eliminating these dangerous contraband wireless devices in correctional facilities. As the corrections industry technology leader, GTL is joining the ASCA, SCDC Director Stirling, and countless others that have gone before the FCC to encourage wireless carriers to support the efforts of those who are working hard to better protect our communities.
Consistent with previous FCC meetings and filings, GTL formally submitted comments to the FCC as part of a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM). In this filing, among other things, GTL stresses that the FCC should allow all available technology options for combatting contraband cell phones and take all the necessary steps to insure wireless carriers actively and fully participate in the development and deployment of those options. Carriers must be partners in the process.
There is no denying it—an inmate escape is a serious public safety issue, and GTL strongly encourages FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and FCC Commissioners to move quickly towards building consensus among all stakeholders, including wireless providers, to develop solutions to tackle this nationwide epidemic. This much-needed change in regulation would give the corrections community a fighting chance at winning this war on contraband cell phones and increasing public safety.
Press Contact: Vinnie Mascarenhas
GTL’s Deposit Systems create efficiencies when taking deposits, reduce correctional facility costs, and increase the convenience for friends and family members. GTL offers a broad selection of products to choose from so that the right mix can be created for every facility.
GTL offers multiple options for friends and family to set up and fund telephone accounts, inmate trust accounts, or commissary accounts. This streamlines the payment process for friends and family members seeking to communicate with incarcerated loved ones or provide them with funds.
GTL’s innovative technology allows correctional facilities to streamline the release process through a suite of easy-to-use, time-saving products for returning inmate funds at the time of release.
From intake to release, information on all aspects of an inmate’s incarcerations are maintained by the GTL Offender Management System (OMS) – including initial intake, charges, sentencing, property, housing, medical, meal planning, scheduling, and temporary release to name a few.
OMS Accounting was specifically designed to meet the needs of correctional facilities of every size. Unlike standard off-the-shelf accounting systems, OMS Accounting offers corrections institutions the exact modules that will help them complete all of their correctional facility’s accounting activities.
GTL’s Facility Services Secretary allows friends and families to easily access facility information, inmate status, and other services such as court dates, release dates, facility address and directions, rules and policies, visitation information and hours, just by dialing a single toll-free number.
GTL’s IQ family of call and voice analysis products offer investigators a range of options for gathering actionable intelligence to combat fraud, criminal activity, and gang and terrorist recruitment by pinpointing the location of a called party, identifying phone type, detecting calls from multiple inmates to a single called party, and identifying inmates using voiceprints.
GTL’s data analysis tools include a powerful data mining and link analysis application to identify actionable intelligence critical to ensuring a facility’s safety and security. They offer the ability to take any data source for the purposes of analysis, even including the detection of mobile devices and the extraction of its data.
GTL’s Intelligence as a Service offering is flexible enough to meet the unique demands of individual facilities. Focused on the development of actionable intelligence, analysts are trained and equipped with the tools to analyze vast amounts of raw data to provide facilities with the proverbial “needle in a haystack.” Depending on facility needs, analysts can also be equipped to provide mobile device forensic services to extract data from legally seized contraband phones, thus assisting facilities in shutting down the supply of contraband.
GTL’s feature-rich Inmate Telephone System is a turnkey solution that comes complete with all hardware and software, including the telephone network, circuits, monitoring and recording system, call-control system, secure database, telephones, workstations, printers, and associated software.
Message Link provides an electronic alternative to an otherwise inefficient and potentially tainted communication method. As contraband and cryptic messages are entering correctional facilities through an ever-rising level of creativity, Message Link provides a secure, controlled environment for inmate messaging.
The GTL VisitMe video visitation solution allows facilities to transition traditional in-person visitation service to a more secure on-premise or remote alternative. This highly scalable solution can help facilities improve security while reallocating staff time to more critical tasks.
VisitMe Scheduler can eliminate long queues in the visitation area by avoiding the chaos of having a high volume of concurrent visitors at the facility. In so doing, the system also minimizes staffing requirements.
Education Link allows inmates to take advantage of several electronic learning initiatives while monitoring and reporting each inmate’s progress so adjustments can be made, if necessary.
Our in-pod kiosk can be configured to allow inmates to access a variety of approved multimedia applications through a secure personal device. Offerings in the GTL entertainment portfolio provide access to the largest MP3/4, video, and e-book secure library available.
Introducing GTL Genesis to a facility provides an automated alternative to manual, behind-the-bars activities. In addition, the GTL Genesis provides the opportunity to introduce new interactive technologies that help inmates manage their incarcerated time.