Skip to comments.Senate Seeks FCC Approval To Jam Prison Cell Phones
Posted on 08/08/2009 10:43:51 PM PDT by Cindy
Senate Seeks FCC Approval To Jam Prison Cell Phones
Legislation aims to stop organized-crime members from using smuggled cell phones to conduct criminal activities from prison.
By W. David Gardner InformationWeek July 15, 2008 04:00 AM
With strong bipartisan support to permit the jamming of cell phone signals in prisons, the issue will head to the Federal Communications Commission, which has had longtime jurisdiction over wireless jamming and interference measures.
The debate has received widespread attention this week in hearings conducted by the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee. The Safe Prisons Communications Act, co-sponsored by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), calls for the FCC to give correctional facilities a waiver to operate cell phone signal jamming devices at their prisons.
The hearings produced several horror stories of prisoners using contraband cell phones to order assassinations and harass state legislators from death row.
Senator Mikulski discussed how organized-crime members in prisons used smuggled cell phones to conduct criminal activities.
(Excerpt) Read more at informationweek.com ...
Note: The following text is a quote:
Text of S. 251: Safe Prisons Communications Act of 2009
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This version: Introduced in Senate. This is the original text of the bill as it was written by its sponsor and submitted to the Senate for consideration. This is the latest version of the bill available on this website.
S 251 IS
To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to permit targeted interference with mobile radio services within prison facilities.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
January 15, 2009
Mrs. HUTCHISON (for herself and Mr. DEMINT) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to permit targeted interference with mobile radio services within prison facilities.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the Safe Prisons Communications Act of 2009.
SEC. 2. INTERFERENCE PERMITTED WITHIN PRISONS.
Section 333 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 333) is amended—
(1) by inserting (a) IN GENERAL- before No person; and
(2) by adding at the end the following:
(b) EXCEPTION FOR PRISONS-
(A) IN GENERAL- The Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons or the chief executive officer of a State (or his or her designee) may, by petition, request that the Commission grant a waiver of subsection (a) to permit the installation of devices for the sole purpose of preventing, jamming, or interfering with wireless communications within the geographic boundaries of a specified prison, penitentiary, or correctional facility under his or her jurisdiction.
(B) TERM- A waiver granted under this subsection shall be for a term not to exceed 10 years, but shall be renewable by petition.
(C) FEE- The Commission may not charge a filing fee for a petition under this paragraph.
(2) Notification; database-
(A) NOTIFICATION OF CARRIERS- Upon receipt of a petition under paragraph (1), the Commission shall provide a copy of the petition to each commercial mobile service provider serving the area that includes the prison, penitentiary, or correctional facility to which the petition applies.
(B) DATABASE- The Commission shall maintain an electronic database containing a copy of each such petition received by it and the disposition thereof. The Commission shall update the database at least monthly and shall make the database publicly available on the Commissions Internet website and publish a copy of the database in the Federal Register at least quarterly.
(3) DISPOSITION OF PETITION- In determining whether to grant a requested waiver, the Commission shall consider, among other factors, whether the grant of the waiver would interfere with emergency or public safety communications. The Commission shall act on a request under this subsection within 60 calendar days after the date on which the Commission receives the petition.
(4) TRANSFER PROHIBITED- A prison, penitentiary, or correctional facility that receives a waiver pursuant to this subsection may not transfer the ownership or right to use any device authorized pursuant to the waiver to any third party for use outside the area of the prison, penitentiary, or correctional facility for which the waiver was granted.
(5) LIMITATIONS ON USE- Within 1 year after the date of enactment of the Safe Prisons Communications Act of 2009, the Commission shall adopt final regulations governing the use of devices authorized by a waiver under this subsection that, at a minimum, require that the prison, penitentiary, or correctional facility—
(A) utilize a device—
(i) authorized by the Commission; and
(ii) specifically approved by the Commission for the purpose described in paragraph (1);
(B) operate the device at the lowest possible transmission power necessary to prevent, jam, or interfere with wireless communications by inmates; and
(C) operate the device in a manner that does not interfere with wireless communications that originate and terminate outside the area of the prison, penitentiary, or correctional facility, by operating the device on a directionalized basis, by utilizing all other interference-limiting capabilities available to the device, or otherwise.
(6) Suspension; revocation-
(A) TERMINATION OR SUSPENSION OF WAIVER-
(i) NOTICE FROM PROVIDER- The Commission shall suspend a waiver granted under this subsection with respect to a prison, penitentiary, or correctional facility upon receiving written notice from a commercial mobile service provider, supported by affidavit and such documentation as the Commission may require, stating that use of a device by or at such prison, penitentiary, or correctional facility is interfering with commercial mobile service provided by that provider or is otherwise preventing or jamming such communications (other than within the confines of such prison, penitentiary, or correctional facility). Within 90 days after receiving such a notice and documentation, the Commission shall conclude an investigation to determine whether the device authorized for use at the prison, penitentiary, or correctional facility is causing such interference and shall issue an order reinstating, modifying, or terminating the waiver based on its findings and conclusions.
(ii) NONCOMPLIANT USAGE- If the Commission has reason to believe that a prison, penitentiary, or correctional facility for which a waiver has been granted under this subsection is not in compliance with the regulations under this subsection, the Commission shall suspend the waiver until it can make a determination with respect to such compliance after notice and an opportunity for a hearing.
(B) REVOCATION- The Commission may revoke a waiver under this section for willful or repeated violations, or failure to observe the requirements, of the waiver or the regulations promulgated by the Commission under this subsection.
(C) INTERIM USAGE- If the Commission initiates a suspension or a revocation proceeding under this paragraph, it may prohibit use of the device to which the waiver relates at the prison, penitentiary, or correctional facility for which the waiver was granted during the pendency of any such proceeding..
SEC. 3. DEVICE CERTIFICATION CRITERIA RULEMAKING.
(a) IN GENERAL- Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Federal Communications Commission shall adopt a final rule establishing criteria for certification for the manufacture, sale, importation, and interstate shipment of devices that may be used pursuant to a waiver under section 333(b) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 333(b)), notwithstanding section 302 of such Act (47 U.S.C. 302a). The regulations shall require, at a minimum, that any such device—
(1) operate at the lowest technically feasible transmission power that will permit prison, penitentiary, or correctional staff to prevent, jam, or interfere with wireless communications within the geographic boundaries of a specified prison, penitentiary, or correctional facility;
(2) be capable of directionalized operation; and
(3) comply with any other technical standards deemed necessary or appropriate by the Commission to ensure that the device does not create interference to other than the targeted wireless communications.
(b) CERTIFICATION PROCESS- After the date on which the final rule promulgated under subsection (a) is published in the Federal Register, the Commission shall grant or deny an application for certification of a device described in subsection (a) within 180 calendar days of receiving an application therefor.
What a bloody clever idea! I never would have thought of that! I wonder if the @#$@ing senate will allow them to do their job and block the #$@#ing cell phones?
This is one of those no brainer issues. I find it odd they need FCC approval to do this.
Why is the FCC needed to enforce local prison regulation?
I am suprised that the ol' Barbara Mikulski is co-sponsoring this bill. It should fly through the senate.
I’m not aware of ‘the right to a cellphone frequency in prison’ in any legal statute in this country. I could be wrong.
Federal courthouse in Baltimore in recent months had a high profile case where the murder of a witness was ordered from a prison cellphone.
Its a curious thing. Restaurants in NYC already jam cellphone coverage within their property. A number of theaters already jam. There are intelligence-related government agencies which do this. And finally, you would have to imagine that the White House ought to be doing if they aren’t already.
Oh, one more way - via messages passed via one's lawyer ...
The trend of remote bombs being detonated by cellphones has made jamming relatively commonplace for leaders worldwide. Like you said, it’s relatively common in private enterprise as well. Why they need permission to use the technology in prisons escapes me.
I would think jamming certain frequencies for a certain distance would require FCC approval.
This is one of those no brainer issues. I find it odd they need FCC approval to do this.I could be mistaken, but seeing as we are a 'rule by law country', and seeing as how there are laws presently on the books preventing the uncoordinated and unlicensed emission of Radio Frequency (RF) energy (except as presently allowed in the rules and regs) then laws, rules and regulations need to be drawn up and allowed to stand for commet (if drawn up by the FCC and not by the congress) before they may be made effective.
Rule by law.
Not decree. But this may change(ing) as we speak ...
From the article:
"The debate has received widespread attention this week in hearings conducted by the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee."
Why are there cell phones in a prison... in the first place?
Lets keep it simple and to/within the LAW... if we can't control LAW within a PRISON, where are we headed?
No need to jam all the cell frequencies.
All that is needed is a set of receivers on the prison grounds that can detect and locate cell transmissions.
Any transmission that comes from the prison itself can be selectively jammed. It will not cause interference even to someone walking by the front of the prison who is using their cell phone.
Not an engineering miracle, just simple application of existing equipment.
Oh, and the esn of prison employees can be selectively allowed too operate normally.
Consficate cell phones
18 months Solitary confinement for ANY prisoner using a cell phone.
Next problem, please
re: Why are there cell phones in a prison... in the first place?
Exactly my thoughts as I read this!! WTH, this is prison, if you can’t keep something like a cell phone out of there what chance to do you have of controlling other aspects of a prisoner’s existence. I would just have the ability to monitor any cell phone conversations originating on the property, then use tapes of the talks to indict and convict those who plan murders from there via their cell phone.
Either way though, I find it disturbing that they don’t have control over what someone locked up has access to or in their possession. I know there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye, especially the eye of someone as lacking in knowledge and understanding of prison life, but gosh it seems like they could keep things out of their possession.
Perhaps someone who is experienced in the field could enlighten us on why our expectations are not reasonable. I would like a quick lesson on prison life.
Thank you for the additional info allmost.
An already-legal answer is to set up local cell phone “towers” on the prison grounds, having directional antennas so that the prison’s neighbors are not affected. The connection between this tower and the outside network can be censored or watched at will. I’d hate to be a guard and find it impossible to use a cell phone in an emergency.
Cell phones are smuggled in by various methods. Visitation, bad officers, etc.
Another answer is the Faraday cage. Embed sufficiently fine metal mesh in walls, doors, and windows. This physically contains the signal.
Pre and Post release experiences are available at DU.com
Does not allow prison employees to use their cell phones.
We have an either/or here between the “won’t work” and “does not allow prison employees to use their cell phones.”
There ain't no law in prison. There's just as much dope there as there is on the streets.
I’m waiting for the FCC to shut down YouTube so people can’t see the union thugs in action, and the librats hiding from their consitiuents.
There is law, perhaps unwritten.
I'm concerned with written laws and the lack of enforcement versus appeasement.
However, if you speak of elected "officials/representatives", then I sadly must defer to you.
I trust inmates more than I trust them.
The "union thugs" are also being played.
We won't see an internet shutdown in our lifetime.. unless tar and pitchforks are outlawed (and why would that happen?)
Considering the track record of our legislators...
I would expect them to outlaw cell phones.
... and those that we elect never question why that is
The phones are smuggled in.
Yeah, I know. Drugs, smokes, all kinds of ‘goodies’. Makes some COs a nice little profit on the side. It’s endemic in most places to some extent.
Another answer is the Faraday cage.Really ... REALLY!!??
Where can I find my local 'Faraday cage dealer' then?
(Pssst - RedNeck: Faraday cages per se ONLY block electrostatic/electric fields, NOT magnetic fields and so TECHNICALLY SPEAKING would not work in this case SINCE propagating RF energy contains a balanced E-H field.
You MIGHT be referring to a 'screen room' or screening (shielding) techniques which is what we in this field actually call it. Google Lindgren for a primer on the subject.)
Just turn off the electricity to any area that prisoners are allowed to be. In a day or two, all the cell phones will be dead.
Why do they need electricity anyway? It’s prison. It’s supposed to be a place that is brutal and cruel.
I don’t care how hot or cold they get. They don’t need lights at night.
Prison should be a dank dismal place without comforts of any kind.
An already-legal answer is to set up local cell phone towers_Jim shakes head ... OVERKILL Red Neck, besides, you won't be able to contain the RF strictly to the 'grounds'.
Recommend instead a 'leaky radiating coax system' around the periphery of the building fed by a broadband mult-carrier or white noise source on the uplink frequency so the subscriber/prioner phone doesn't ever see/find the downlink signal ...
Just turn off the electricity to any area that prisoners are allowed to be. In a day or two, all the cell phones will be dead.So ... additional BATTERIES are smuggled in ....
Besides, it would take MORE than just a 'day or two' to be effective ... do you/have you operated one of today's little technical marvels?
Inside of 5 minutes on that site I was unable to ‘locate’ said jammer ... any clues where I might look?
All that is needed is a set of receivers on the prison grounds that can detect and locate cell transmissions.GREAT idea, except, do you know how many 'reflections' occur in/around structures and buildings? (and ideally you want resolution down to the individual 'cell' where the phone is not just the building or cell block ... then there is the multi-floor/elevation aspect - a further difficulty to resolve)
The term 'multipath' (literally: "multiple paths" for/of the RF on its way to any particular intended or unintended receiver) is truly applicable here ...
There used to be no communication out of a prison, and with good reason. You could send and receive mail, but it was highly scrutinized and censored. Maybe we could pay Haiti to take them :)
They have other communication devices. Besides the Guards are the likely suspects in getting the phones in the prison in the first place.
There follows a modest proposal flowing from that...
(with a nod to Sam Clemens!)
From now on we should recruit our political class from among the lifers in the pen. The cons can be bussed to their offices at morning and returned to their cells the same way at night.
The content of their character will be known before hand, removing any need for speculation.
The cost of corruption will go way down, even the common citizen will be able to afford to move legislation and affect judicial outcomes...despite the recent increase in federal cigarette taxes.
The cost of compensation will go down too, no more gold plated congressional/civil service pensions and expensive health care plans.
The lifer inmates already receive free food, shelter, clothing, transportation and medical care for life.
If we can’t get enough inmates to participate in federal service because of the perceived loss of status perhaps we could simply transfer the existing political class as a whole to the penal system.
I have no problem with this. I'm for a major cleanup of our prisons. No prisoner should be allowed to be in a gang, a prisoner who attacks another prisoner should lose his access to other prisoners, and the warden should be fired if one person is raped in his or her prison.I think the application of 'shock aversion therapy' would do the trick to 'change' the behavior of these incorrigible individuals.
Nothing else seems to work, and believe me, *I* avoid being shocked at all costs (having been bitten in the past from a wide variety of things in different scenarios; the memory lingers and I have no desire to repeat the experience!)
Establish a strong enough connection between the prohibited activity and painful memories/ recollections/ and fear of a return for 're-treatment' and such behavior drops drastically.