[Y]et another cell phone was discovered on the region 3 Clemens unit in Brazoria. But this time the story behind the discovery is actually the entertaining part as a Huntsville generated report disclosed. As an eagle eyed employee made rounds on a Clemens unit outside trusty status dorm, they ran into something thats beginning to become all to familiar. An offender was lying on his cubicle bunk, gossiping away on his very own cell phone.That's quite a tale. To be frank, since it's almost certainly guards bringing in the cell phones I imagine rational self interest will prevent the same couriers from bringing in a pistol. Still, someone who'd smuggle in a cell phone might well smuggle in other types of contraband, and when it's a staff person there's a doubled risk from future blackmail and long-term corruption.
The attentive staff member had the offender get up and the chase was on from there. The offender bolted out of his cubicle, and ran to the rear of the dorm trying to evade the persuing officer. The officer called for more staff and tried to box the offender into the rear of the dorm until help arrived. As other staff members arrived, the offender saw his hopes of a clean getaway dashed as they all converged. He then made the decison to dive through a screened mesh dorm window to get outside where he took off on foot with his cell phone still in hand.
Officers gave chase, and eventually caught up to the offender after he had made his way to an area at the perimeter of the trusty camp compound. He then attempted to bury the device in the ground . At which time he was apprehended and promptly moved into the main compound. He is anticipated to be charged with possession of a cell phone in a secure correctional facilty, a felony that has fetched as many as 30 additional years in prison for some.
The Clemens unit remains at the top of the cell phone exchange within TDCJ. A recent state senate hearing admonished a clearly shaken TDCJ executive director over the unit's stats, that at the time were 46 so far this year. That was June 4th. Today, officials claim that numerous other cell phones and their accessories have been located on the unit since the prior numbers were released just a month ago. And thanks to a professional correctional officer on the Clemens unit, another one is out of an offenders hands. But additional steps need to be taken to prevent the entry into the facility in the first place. Clemens currently does not routinely search staff coming in, and there is no metal detectors present for use on employees. If 46+ cell phones have made it in, what are the chances of a pistol showing up in the near future? Just a thought.......
There are technological solutions to prisoners having cell phones, but the per-unit cost and the staff commitment for monitoring are more or less prohibitive. I'm similarly skeptical of the latest fad on the topic - cell phone sniffing dogs, of all things. (I don't know what it is about a cell phone the dog supposedly smells). Drug and bomb detecting dogs don't work well in noisy chaotic environments, and even in quieter quarters they often miss their mark. Even if cell phones do have some specific scent, I have a hard time imagining in a prison environment dogs would be able to stay focused and consistently perform the task.
To me the best solution is much simpler: Finish implementing the new phone system to give more prisoners more frequent access to telephones for legitimate purposes, and fully staff prisons so that, as happened in the Clemens Unit anecdote, prisoners are adequately monitored and someone will likely see them talking on the phone.
Finally, a prison unit with a large number of cell phones is usually a prison unit containing one or more corrupt guards. It's one thing to hunt for cell phones by whatever means after they're inside, but a lot better for everybody if wardens install preventive measures up front to keep staff from smuggling contraband in the first place and actively root out corruption in their ranks.