Unauthorized cell phones in prisons now a crime | NevadaAppeal.com

Unauthorized cell phones in prisons now a crime

(AP) – A bill making it a crime to bring unauthorized cell phones into Nevada prisons and other state detention facilities was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Jim Gibbons.

Nevada prisons chief Howard Skolnik says cell phones already are prohibited by regulation in prisons, but there has been no legal authority to enforce the ban.

In a 2005 case, a prisoner used a cell phone to set up a successful escape. Cell phones also can be used for a variety of criminal activity inside prisons, including scams and fraud, Skolnik said. The standard telephone lines in prisons are all monitored and recorded by prison employees.

Skolnik said federal communications laws prevent states from blocking radio waves, so Nevada officials can’t take action to actually block cell phone coverage inside prisons.

Under AB106, anyone knowingly furnishing a prisoner with a cell phone could be charged with a felony, punishable by up to four years in prison. Inmates could face the same penalty for possessing a cell phone. A visitor or employee who just brings a cell phone into a prison could face misdemeanor penalties.

Skolnik said prisons will put up postings both inside and outside of prisons to remind visitors of the consequences of bringing in a cell phone.