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California: Corrections Department Donates Confiscated Cell Phones to Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Organizations

In recognition of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) announced plans to donate thousands of confiscated cell phones to organizations that help victims of domestic violence.

In addition to providing victims of domestic abuse with a means to call 911 in an emergency (thereby serving a valuable and much-needed public service function), the donation plan gives CDCR an opportunity to put a good face on an increasingly embarrassing problem – the proliferation of contraband cell phones in its prisons.

According to a news release by CDCR spokeswoman Terry Thornton, CDCR staff confiscated nearly 1,400 contraband cell phones in 2007, about 2,800 call phones in 2008, almost 7,000 in 2009, and over 7,800 as of October 2010.

From a corrections standpoint, the cell phones pose a serious risk to safety and security, as they provide prisoners a means of circumventing the systems put in place by prison officials to monitor prisoner communications with the outside world. Officials have expressed concerns that the cell phones will be used to plan escapes, conduct drug transactions, and commit other crimes.

From a prisoner perspective, cell phones provide a means of avoiding the exorbitant phone rates charged by the carriers which contract with CDCR. Many families of prisoners simply cannot afford those rates. For the benefit of being able to stay in touch with loved ones, prisoners are willing to risk the consequence of a write-up, even if it means loss of good time, as well as a stint in administrative segregation.

Source: CDCR press release

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