One of the biggest challenges prisons face is controlling or even eradicating illegal contraband. However, the most dangerous forms of contraband isn’t always a weapon, but a cell phone. Illegal cell phones give prison gangs and other criminals the ability to run illegal enterprises from within their cells. Lower gang members or criminal associates on the outside execute orders, placing people – including us – in danger. However, technology has emerged that is making illegal cell phones practically useless.
Securus Technologies, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, recently developed technology that tracks down communication attempts made by unauthorized prison cell phones and then blocks each attempt. Calls are dropped and texts aren’t completed because signals never reach a cell phone tower. This technology, called Wireless Containment Solution (WCS), is being implemented in many prisons nationwide. A recent test of this technology resulted in the blockage of over 1.7 million illegal communication attempts in just eight prisons over a period of one year. Although the total number of attempts being made in all prisons may reach into the hundreds of millions, WCS can make a huge dent in criminal organization and activities, resulting in safer communities for all of us.
However, the road to WCS wasn’t easy. The Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, for many years had regulations on the books that prevented the use of phone-jamming technologies. Prison officials and other advocates lobbied the FCC to relax these rules for prisons. Robert Johnson, a former corrections officer and current consultant for Securus, testified about his story and how contraband cell phones threaten and take innocent lives. He described how a prison gang used an illegal phone to arrange a hit on him at his home that left him fighting for his life. Eventually he recovered and made it his goal to eliminate this type of contraband in prisons. Robert Johnson, as well as others, influenced the FCC to change their stance and allow prisons to use selective call blocking technologies.
As WCS and similar technologies are deployed throughout the prison system, it will prevent crime. Thanks to this technology and people like Robert Johnson, we will be even safer in our communities.
I work for a fugitive task force that is responsible for catching the worst of the worst as quickly as possible so that innocent civilians are not put in harm’s way. This is a very high-pressure job that requires me and my team to utilize a combination of skills, resources, and intuition to bring the bad guys back to the jail. This month we had a very trying case handed to us, one that involved a top gang member who was out for blood with a rival gang.
This fugitive was not only going after the other gang, he was assaulting anyone who git in between or happened to be in a location where his violent outbursts would occur. If his target was in a mall, he had little concern for the families who were simply spending a day shopping together. When he began shooting up a rival gang leaders car and managed to hit several dozen other cars packed with people, we knew this had to stop today.
We headed to the local prison, not to speak to the inmates about our suspect, to listen to the inmates talk about their hero. Securus Technologies installed their call monitoring system in that jail, and it would allow us to listen to other gang members talking about their leader without us even raising suspicion we are gathering information. One common thread with criminals, they simply can not keep their big mouths shut.
It didn’t take long to pick up conversations about gang members talking about who was helping and hiding our suspect. This fugitive moved fast, but we collected enough data to be able to set up surveillance in those locations and bring him down in the middle of the night after another violent crime he was involved in that day.
Securus Technologies Video Visitation is becoming more widely utilized with each passing month. One of the reasons Securus Technologies Video Visitation is attractive is because it contributes to community safety in a number of different ways.
First of all, the men and women who work as correctional officers put their lives at risk every time they enter into a jail or prison. Thanks to Securus Technologies Video Visitation, the safety risk to these professionals is reduced.
The reality of prison operations is that a major risk point is in-person visitation. The Securus Technologies Video Visitation system eliminates the heightened safety risk attendant to in-person visitation.
As an aside, it is also at in-person visitation where a good deal of dangerous contraband is introduced into a correctional facility. This threat is also eliminated with Securus Technologies Video Visitation.
In addition to making correctional institutions safer, Video Visitation also enhances general community safety. One primary reason this occurs is because Video Visitation better ensures that inmates and their loved ones are able to maintain meaningful relationships.
Research proves, time and again, that an incarcerated person who maintains close contact with loved ones will reintegrate better into the community upon release. This category of offender is far less likely to reoffend in the future.
At the present time, Securus Technologies Video Visitation is being utilized in about 180 U.S. correctional agencies. That number is expected to increase significantly into the future.
About 2 million individual visits are expected to occur using Video Visitation during the course of the coming year. The company projects that this number is going to double the following year. Securus Technologies expects this growth trend to continue into the future
Thus far, the Securus Technologies Video Visitation app has been downloaded about 232,000 times. 110,000 visits have occurred utilizing the phone app itself.