Thursday, October 28, 2010

CDCR Gives Local Charities Hundreds of Contraband Cell Phones

CDCR Safe Cell Phone Program donates phones to victims of abuse

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has developed a way to donate thousands of cell phones to domestic violence organizations throughout the state in recognition of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate delivered cell phones and chargers Thursday to Beth Hassett, the executive director of Women Escaping a Violent Environment, to mark the beginning of the project. The cell phones will be distributed to victims of domestic violence to call 911 in an emergency.

Building on the success of programs such as at Ironwood State Prison, CDCR is working with all institutions to expand the donation project statewide.

In 2007, CDCR staff collected nearly 1,400 contraband cell phones – either confiscated from inmates or discovered on prison grounds — and in 2008, approximately 2,800. By 2009, that number had grown to 6,995, and so far this year, more than 7,835 cell phones have been collected.

With thousands of contraband cell phones sitting in boxes, CDCR officials are pleased the donation project presents a viable solution beyond simply contributing to a landfill.

Finding an ultimate good use for the phones, however, does not mitigate the concern about their initial presence in the prisons. Contraband cell phone usage is a problem that CDCR takes very seriously.

Cell phone use by inmates poses a security risk as it circumvents a prison’s monitoring processes. Modern cell phones can record video images, record conversations, provide Internet capability and be used to commit crimes. CDCR officials are concerned they can be used to plan escapes; coordinate riots in multiple institutions; or conduct drug trade outside the prison.

To combat the use of contraband cell phones, CDCR is implementing new methods of detection, including the use of dogs specially trained to sniff out a cell phone.

CDCR’s Office of Community Partnerships (OCP) and Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services (OVSRS) are proud to be working with domestic violence organizations to put the contraband cell phones into the hands of a vulnerable segment of society.

OCP works in conjunction with Community Partnership Managers at each institution and with volunteer organizations, law enforcement agencies, schools, corporations and other agencies to build a working relationship between the CDCR and the community. The OCP strives to create strong partnerships with community-based providers and the communities in order to provide services critical to an offender’s success on parole.

OVSRS provides advocacy services, as well as support for rehabilitative opportunities for offenders. Specifically, the OVSRS maintains a comprehensive victim services program and supports justice practices to ensure offender rehabilitation and accountability to victims, the community and to themselves.

For more information about OCP, please call (916) 327-4901.

For questions and/or services, please call OVSRS toll-free at 1-877-256-6877.

For Immediate Release
Contact: Terry Thornton

(916) 445-4950