Governors Declare Support for Hutchison Bill to Jam Illegal Prison Cell Phones

September 10, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Twenty of the nation’s governors released a letter declaring support for bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, to allow prisons to block calls from contraband cellular phones.  The twenty governors urged Congress to swiftly pass Senator Hutchison’s legislation, the Safe Prisons Communications Act of 2009 (S.251).  Signing the letter were Governors Martin O’Malley (D-Md.), M. Michael Rounds (R-S.D.), Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), John P. deJongh Jr. (D-U.S.V.I.), Mark Parkinson (D-Kansas), Theodore Kulongoski (D-Ore.), Steven L. Beshear (D-Ky.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Haley Barbour (R-Miss.), Chester Culver (D-Iowa), Jim Gibbons (R-Nevada), Gary R. Herbert (R-Utah), Bobby Jindal (R-La.), Pat Quinn (D-Ill.), Bob Riley (R-Ala.), Donald Carcieri (R-R.I.), M. Jodi Rell (R-Conn.), and Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.).

“America’s governors are sending Congress a clear signal – they need this legislation passed now,” said Senator Hutchison.  “Prisons are meant to stop the commission of crimes, but cell phones inside prisons mean business as usual for dangerous felons.  When a single call can result in someone’s death, we must exhaust every technology at our disposal.”

In 2008, corrections systems across the country reported large numbers of confiscated phones. California reported nearly 3,000 phones found with inmates, while Mississippi had nearly 2,000, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons reported they confiscated more than 1,600 phones.  The legislation is also supported by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, South Carolina Department of Corrections, Washington, D.C. Department of Corrections, Association of State Correctional Administrators, American Jail Association, American Correctional Association, National Sheriffs Association, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees AFL-CIO, Fraternal Order of Police, National Governors Association, and the Council of State Governments. 

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The governors' letter of support is attached.