You are on page 1of 2

November 4, 2016

The Honorable Thomas E. Wheeler, Chairman

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
Dear Chairman Wheeler,
We write today to implore the Federal Communications Commission to reevaluate its regulations relating
to the prevention of contraband cellphones in our state prison systems. Contraband cellphones pose a
grave threat to public safety and we must be able to use effective and efficient means to combat this
As leaders of state corrections institutions, we are intimately aware of the dangers posed by contraband
cellphones. Murders have been arranged and carried out on our correctional officers, criminal enterprises
continue to thrive, victims have been stalked, witnesses have been threatened, escapes have been arranged
and prison riots have been orchestrated all from within prison cells using contraband cellphones. These
are not isolated or one-off events, instead they are becoming common instances as more and more
cellphones illegally infiltrate our facilities. Five examples of the dire consequences that these cell phones
have caused are noted here.
In South Carolina in 2010, a corrections captain, who had oversaw efforts to crack down on contraband
cellphones and drugs, was shot six times during a home invasion. An inmate on a contraband cellphone
orchestrated the attempted murder plot.
A surge of violence in Georgia prisons is being blamed, in part, on the prevalence of contraband
cellphones, which provide inmates access to social media and real time access to each other allowing
them to order hits inside the prison and on the street.
In North Carolina in 2014, an inmate used a cellphone to order gang members to kidnap the father of the
prosecutor that put him behind bars. The inmate used the phone to orchestrate the abduction, exchanging
123 calls and text messages with the kidnappers. Fortunately, the FBI was able to rescue the victim before
it was too late.

George & Camille Camp, Executive Directors

Executive Office ! 1110 Opal Court, Suite 5 ! Hagerstown, MD 21740-5942
Phone (301) 791-ASCA (2722) ! Fax (301) 393-9494

Page 2
In Mississippi a federal conspiracy case trial revealed that prison inmates orchestrated murder, attempted
murder, kidnapping, assault, money laundering, drug distribution and firearms trafficking all via illegal
cell phones.
In Tennessee in 2005, inmate George Hyatte shot Correctional Officer Wayne Cotton Morgan in an
escape attempt. Mr. Hyatte and his accomplice coordinated the escape using a smuggled cell phone.
Unfortunately, current legal technologies designed to prevent contraband cellphone use are expensive and
not one hundred percent effective. As long as there is a market for cellphones and a means to make calls
from within prison walls, inmates and their accomplices will continue to find ways to beat current
methods of detection and prevention, but this does not need to be the end of the story.
Contraband cellphones present a problem we believe has a solution, but our hands remain tied if the FCC
and Congress do not act. We look forward to working with you and Congress to find solutions to
eliminate cellphone signals in prisons and address this dire public safety threat.
Thank you very much.

Leann K. Bertsch, President

cc: ASCA Members