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February 17, 2010

Governor helps test cell phone jamming at prisons

Gov. Martin O'Malley will be on hand at a federal prison in Western Maryland today to watch the first test of a prison cell phone jamming device. Calls to block cell phone signals in prisons to thwart inmates from ordering hits on witnesses and running drug networks from behind bars is meeting stiff resistance.

Many cell phone companies view the initiative as unnecessary and say it could jam cell phones of legitimate customers outside the prison walls. In additions, some have said it would make the job of corrections officers more dangerous because they too would be unable to use the phones. Above is a picture of confiscated cell phones from a Maryland prison, taken by The Sun's Barbara Haddock Taylor.

In September, Maryland prison officials spent a day testing similar equipment. The U.S. Congress is considering lifting a federal ban on blocking cell phone signals to allow limited deployment at prisons. Maryland authorities say that cell phones are among the items most confiscated from cells.

Here is a statement form O'Malley:


Governor will also Tour Local Business to promote Job Creation Tax Credit

ANNAPOLIS, MD (February 16, 2010) – Governor Martin O’Malley will visit Western Maryland tomorrow, where he will attend the nation’s first-ever federally sanctioned test of cell phone jamming technology at a federal prison.  Last year, Governor O’Malley and Senator Mikulski formally requested approval for the test from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).  Tomorrow, Governor O’Malley will visit the Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, MD, where the Bureau of Prisons and the NTIA will conduct the first-ever sanctioned test of the jamming technology at a prison.  Governor O’Malley and Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Gary Maynard will address media at the prison’s training facility following the visit. 

Cell phone jamming technology will allow prisons to interrupt the signal of illegal cell phones that are potentially being used to orchestrate crimes from within the walls of the prison.

Later, Governor O’Malley will visit American Woodmark, a cabinet manufacturer in Cumberland that is expanding and adding jobs.  The Governor will highlight the Job Creation and Recovery tax credit, part of the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s jobs agenda to fuel innovation and drive economic progress throughout Maryland.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:14 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Confronting crime, Gangs, Prisons, Witness intimidation


The cell phone companies are so full of it. I remember last year when this idea first cropped up there was a report that they make billions off of cell phones in prisons. Because the inmates just pass the phone around and rack up huge bills blowing through the minutes.

Maybe MD's politicians will surprise us all and vote for this measure and ignore the "generous contributions" from the cell phone companies.

Why don't they just ban all cell phones in prisons? Start a new policy, no one, including guards, can bring a cell phone in the building. If a guard needs to make a call, use the land lines. Go back to using two way radios. Why keep wasting money?

I agree that the jamming should be used. A1 Dyer....We are Officers not gaurds and we are already prohibited from bringing our own cellphones in to the facility.

The jamming of cell phones, within the prison system is an EXCELLENT use of cheap 'off the shelf' technology to sever a dangerous connection between the predators, inside the wall and their prey, outside the wall.

This was a sneaky underhanded test with no prior notice or chance for any cellular provider to monitor their systems in real-time. What no-one realizes is that both cellular companies and 85% of the police agencies in MD use 800 MHz radios. The jammer cannot differentiate between an 800 MHz police radio and a cell phone. O'Malley and Mikulski are signing a death warrant for every police officer with an 800 MHz radio.

Your cell phone perhaps is giving out your secrets in face with the attack of cell phone tracking devices. What can be done to ensure the information security? Fortunately, the mobile phone jammers help us to come over the troublesome problem.

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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.

Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.

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