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'Managed access' trial screens prison phone calls without jamming the airwaves

Darren Murph

Yeah, we've been to this rodeo before... kind of. If you'll recall, prisons have had one heck of a time getting the Feds to sign off on a new law that would allow cellphone jamming equipment to be installed on their premises, and due to a 1934 law that allows only federal agencies to jam public airways, they've had little choice but to sit and wait. A bill is resting in the House right now that would allow pilot jamming programs to commence, but given that it's unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon, South Carolina's prison director (Jon Ozmint) is eying something else. In fact, he's already trying something else. A "managed access" trial has begun in the Palmetto State (as well as Mississippi), which routes mobile calls originating in the prison to a third-party provider that check's each number to see if it's on a whitelist; if it doesn't make the cut, the call is blocked. Jon's still pushing for jamming, but it looks as if this second-rate system may just be good enough to convince most criminals to stop trying to reach the outside world. Or at least add yet another level of frustration to their lives.

[Image courtesy of Wired]

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