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Lankford, Cotton, Colleagues Move to Stop Contraband Cellphone Use in Prisons

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK– Senator James Lankford (R-OK) joined Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR)  to introduce the Cellphone Jamming Reform Act, legislation to prevent contraband cellphone use in federal and state prison facilities by allowing state and federal prisons to use cell phone jamming systems. The bill gives state and federal prisons the authority to implement a jamming system to protect inmates, guards, and the public at large. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John Boozman (R-AR), Mike Braun (R-IN), John Kennedy (R-LA), and Bill Hagerty (R-TN) joined Lankford and Cotton in introducing the bill. Representative David Kustoff (R-TN) introduced companion legislation in the House Of Representatives.

“Cell phones are being slipped into jails and prisons, but federal policy prevents local law enforcement from jamming the cell signal. That needs to stop,” said Lankford. “After years of work and conversations with law enforcement, the Federal Communications Commission, the Department of Justice, and Oklahoma prison leadership, we finally have a bill to allow states to jam illegal cell phones in their prisons to prevent prisoners from contacting their victims or coordinating even more crime while they are incarcerated. This bill simply allows state and federal prisons to use cell phone jammers to ensure they have the tools they need to combat illegal activity in a prison.” 

“Prisoners have used contraband cell phones to direct illegal activities outside prison walls, including hits on rivals, sex trafficking, drug operations, and business deals. Cellphone jamming devices can stop this but the Federal Communications Act doesn’t allow facilities to use this technology. My bill would fix this problem so that criminals serve their time without posing a threat to the general public,” said Cotton.

“In correctional facilities across our country, inmates are using contraband cell phones to conduct illegal activities, including running drug operations, facilitating sex trafficking, and organizing escapes,” said Kustoff. “These contraband cell phones are a major problem and Congress must take action to protect the public from dangerous criminals who continue their illegal activities behind bars. I am pleased to join Senators Cotton and Graham in reintroducing this important bill that will keep our communities in West Tennessee and the United States safe.”

Lankford has been pushing for a change in federal law that will allow states to use jamming technology to prevent the use of contraband cellphones in prisons. He first raised the issue publicly during a floor speech and pointed to specific examples of how contraband cellphones within prisons were used to conduct crime outside of the prison. 

This legislation is supported by the Correctional Leaders Association, the Council of Prison Locals, the American Correctional Association, the National Sheriff’s Association, and the Major County Sheriffs of America.