The state of California has had a problem for some years with the increased use of cell phones by state prisoners. The state believes that it has a solution to this problem and has gotten a telecommunications company to bet big on CDCR’s (California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation) latest gamble. The department had been eyeing other states and their deployment of new technologies to deal with their problems of illegal use of cell phones by prisoners, but had concluded that the overwhelmingly large number of prisons that California operates makes deploying simular tech. in California cost prohibitive. NOT SO FAST. Enter Matt Cate.
Mr. Cate is the Secretary of CDCR and he together with the seller of this cell phone intercept technology, conducted a secret and classified experiment in intercepting inmate cell phone transmissions and reception. Prisonpop.com has learned that this classified operation took place in California State Prison at Calipatria in 2010. After this one day experiment, where upwards of 30 thousand attempts to call, text or access the internet were intercepted, state phone use want up by 65% the next day. Cate used this data to entice and some may say bribe the telecom industry into paying the $25 million it would cost to install and maintain this statewide blanket of interceptors.
Mr. Cates went to the telecom companies and told them that one of the conditions for getting the next exclusive inmate phone contract would be that they would have to say to install and monitor this network of interceptors. All of the companies declined, not so Globaltellink.
Globaltellink, the company that has had the exclusive right to Californian inmate phone contracts for over a decade, saw an opportunity to make an investment that they hope will one day pay dividends.
There is just one problem with the math. Neither Cate or Globaltellink took into consideration some factors which only inmates with cell phones know. The most glaring flaw in their resoning is that they never considered that cell phones pay for themselves. Whether from renting out the phone to prisoners who don’t have one or business transactions with the outside world, both legal and illegal, cell phone use pays for itself. Family members, friends and acquaintances who have grown accustomed to talking, texting and emailing the prisoner at no cost will be reluctant to now have to pay to do the same. The confined former cell phone owner will find his/her funds rapidly diminishing with no means to generate more. So who will sustain this 65% increased inmate use in Globaltellink controlled state phones?
What has also been overlooked is the fact that inmates can not contact people at will using a state phone and as such will not be able to reach certain people due to the narrow times that the state phone is made available. And lastly, the world is increasingly wireless and old communication modalities are becoming increasingly obsolete. All of which means that inmates will never use state phones at a rate that will make up that $25 million investment. And we haven.t even begun to discuss the ways to defeat the technology.
California has already begun to deploy these interceptors and plans to have the entire network operational in the next 3 years. I think that in time we will find that inmate cell phone use will decrease and then will raise a bred of tech savvy super criminals who will demonstrate that laws have never been able to keep pace with technological innovation.