Release date: May 8, 2012
This report is in response to a July 7, 2011 letter of request to CCST from four California State Senators (Senators Elaine Alquist, Loni Hancock,
Christine Kehoe and Alex Padilla). The senators asked CCST
to provide input on the best way to prevent cell phones from getting into the hands of inmates and,
if they do, how best to prevent calls from being completed without impairing the ability of prison
authorities to make and receive official business cell phone calls. In addition, they asked CCST to
undertake a study on the feasibility of Managed Access Systems (MAS) technology as an effective
strategy to curtail the use of contraband cell phones in the California State Prisons.
- Contraband Cell Phones in Prisons are a Growing State and National Security Issue
In 2011, approximately 15,000 contraband cell phones were confiscated at the California
State Prisons. This represents only the cell phones found, not all phones in the facilities.
- Inconsistent Screening at State Prisons
Screening of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) personnel
and visitors entering and leaving the prisons was found to be less rigorous than screening
found at a normal airport security screening access point.
- Existing and Evolving Complexities of Signal Capture
There are significant technological challenges to effective implementation of MAS and
other approaches based on the evolving capabilities of mobile devices. This includes
capabilities seen in mobile devices in the marketplace today and the anticipated future
capabilities of commercial mobile devices including satellite phones.
- MAS Technology Not Yet Proven for Prison Environment
CCST finds that the Managed Access System (MAS) technology of today is not mature
enough for immediate large-scale deployments such as that proposed by CDCR at
California's 33 state prisons.
- MAS Efficacy Protocols Not Defined
CCST notes that there is no evidence that CDCR has fully or reliably identified the size of
the contraband cell phone problem or a mechanism to determine the efficacy of a MAS
- Baseline Benchmarks Needed
To evaluate the effectiveness of an installed MAS, a baseline measure of contraband cell
phone usage must be done prior to implementing a MAS strategy.