Over the last two decades, the ever-shrinking size of hi-tech devices and the ever-increasing power of all things tech-related has been a boon to many industries. The cheap and easy access to cellular telephony has effected the lives of almost everyone within the United States. People who never would have dreamed of getting rid of their home telephones as late as the 1990s have completely cut the cord to their home phone services, saving them thousands per year.
Many industries, such as the logistics business, have benefited tremendously from the rapid and exponential decline in the costs associated with cellular technologies. In the mid-1980s, shortly after the first wide-area cellular phone networks were deployed, a simple analogue cell phone cost as much as $5,000, while the bill to operate such a phone on a monthly basis often ran into the thousands, for normal usage.
Today, devices like Tracfones can be bought for as little as $10. Monthly plans that enable the user to make unlimited calls anywhere within the United States and even some places abroad may cost as little as $20 per month. Relative to what the first-generation cell phones cost, this means that these modern forms of highly mobile and effective communication are all but free.
However, not all industries have benefited from this remarkable pace of innovation within the cellular industry. Within the nation’s prison system, the presence of illegal cell phones, which, due to their increasingly small size, can be easily smuggled into almost any facility, has long presented a horrible security threat to the institutions themselves and the public at large.
Prison gangs that have gotten hold of illegal cell phones have used them for everything from carrying out major drug deals to ordering hits on prison staff. Cell phones that fall into the wrong hands, especially powerful gang leaders, are so dangerous that they effectively nullify the incarceration of the person who has access to them. Because of their ability to communicate with foot soldiers on the outside of prison, gang leaders with effective means of outside communication might as well not be incarcerated at all.
Securus Technologies has recently deployed a system to stop the inflow of illegal cell phones to the nation’s prisons. Called the Wireless Containment System, the device is able to eliminate 100 percent of unauthorized calls placed within the prisons where it is deployed. However, some critics claim that Securus is only pushing this highly effective product in an effort to cut down competition with its prison phone systems, which critics say charge exorbitant amounts for calls.
Securus is quick to set the record straight. The company points out that illegal cell phones have been directly implicated in dozens of murders and thousands of high-level drug deals. Their eradication is an urgent priority.