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Federal Communications Commission decision that increases public safety

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2017 – Today, the FCC took important steps to help law enforcement combat the serious threats posed by the use of contraband wireless devices by inmates in prisons and jails nationwide.  

In recent years, the use of contraband wireless devices by inmates across the country has grown rapidly.  Inmates use these devices to commit criminal acts while inside correctional facilities, such as ordering hits, running drug operations, and operating phone scams.  Some correctional facilities have implemented radio-based technologies to detect and block the use of contraband wireless devices that make and receive phone calls and send and receive text messages, as well as block access to the Internet (including use of apps).  These technologies, called Contraband Interdiction Systems (CISs), use commercial spectrum and therefore require FCC authorization to operate.  

The rules adopted today will simplify the process for CIS operators to obtain this FCC authorization, allowing for quicker and easier deployment of these systems in correctional facilities.  

“I am grateful to my colleagues at the Commission for supporting action on this important public safety issue.  I am also deeply appreciative of the Commission staff who worked so diligently on this item.  Thank you to Melissa Conway, Lloyd Coward, Tom Derenge, Anna Gentry, Nese Guendelsberger, Roger Noel, Moslem Sawez, and Suzanne Tetreault from the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau; to Ira Keltz from the Office of Engineering and Technology; David Horowitz, Bill Richardson, and Anjali Singh in the Office of General Counsel; and to David Furth and Tim May from the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

Members of the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) were in attendance today, South Carolina DOC Director Bryan Stirling and Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn.  “We are encouraged by the FCC’s action on this very serious issue and applaud their decision today”, Bryan Stirling. 


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FCC Press Release contributed to this article