The prison systems are now taking the position that the #1 problem in the facilities are contraband cell phones. To support their case they are arguing the cell phones create a "danger" of escape, being used to arrange illegal activity, etc.
Why Is It a Big Deal?
The prisons and legislators point to a case where a contract killer was allegedly hired by a prisoner via cell phone to kill someone.
However, the real reason that they are being pursued so heavily is that it is an additional way to impose years on a prisoner or, in the least, take away their good time credits and, in addition, the use of contraband cell phones cuts into the income and profit margins since the cost of calls being made from prisons is outrageous, often coming to $1-10 per minute or more.
The Real Issue
For the purposes of this website, the main issue which people need to be aware of is that being caught with a cell phone almost guarantees that the good time credit of a prisoner will be lost and that parole will be, at the very least, substantially delayed. A new charge for possessing or using a cell phone within the prison can also result in additional time being imposed, with the new sentence often not beginning until the expiration of the original sentence and then the new sentence begins.
Many offenders are caught because a record is made of the telephone calls made and received and this evidence is then used to link a particular prisoner to that telephone number. Even with this flimsy evidence a number of people have been convicted.
Even though it may be tempting for a prisoner to use a cell phone to contact loved ones, the risk is just too large and the people on the outside should recommend that it not be done and take every action possible to convince the prisoner not to take the risk. A few minutes on the phone isn't worth the additional time spent in prison.