Lankford Touts FCC’s Commitment to Reduce Contraband Cell Phones in State Prisons

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today applauded the inclusion of language in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) budget proposal for the fiscal year 2021 that would help prevent the use of contraband cellphones in state prisons. The FCC listed strategic goals it “commits to accomplish” which included supporting “the ability of first responders, including law enforcement, by developing and implementing policies and procedures to strengthen public safety,” and taking “steps to propose new rules or facilitate voluntary industry solutions to reduce the use of contraband cellphones in correctional facilities.”

Contraband cell phones in state prisons are a public safety risk that desperately needs to be addressed,” said Lankford. “The FCC’s commitment to fixing this issue through innovative solutions is great news, and I look forward to partnering with the agency to make significant progress in the coming year. As Congress starts to work on funding the federal government for the next fiscal year, I look forward to supporting the FCC’s strategic goals to give state prisons greater tools and technology to combat the use of contraband cell phones. These are simple reforms that we can all get behind to protect guards and communities and to block the planning of criminal activity from happening from within our state prisons. We must ensure that federal and state prisons are on a level playing field to solve this issue.”


Federal law currently does not allow state prisons to jam cell phones. In 2018, Oklahoma state prisons confiscated 7,518 cell phones from inmates. Lankford has been pushing for a change in federal law that will allow states to use jamming technology to prevent the use of contraband cell phones in prisons. He first raised the issue publicly during a floor speech last year and pointed to specific examples of how contraband cellphones within prisons were used to conduct crime outside of the prison. He supported Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt’s executive order on the use of contraband cell phones, which came after an outbreak of prison riots that left one inmate dead and several injured. In December 2019, Lankford supported a funding bill that required a report on a cost estimate to fund testing of cell phone jamming for state prisons. To view the language in the president’s proposed budget, click here (page 76).

Lankford serves on the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee which has jurisdiction over the FCC.