WASHINGTON – In an effort to prevent inmates from organizing crimes while behind bars, the government will soon block calls from cellphones smuggled into federal prisons.

Thousands of cellphones are confiscated from prisoners every year, and the justice department will start testing “micro-jammers” to disrupt cellphone signals inside federal prisons.

“This is big news for public safety, not only in the federal system, but I believe in the state correctional systems across this country.” South Carolina’s Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said.

But there are concerns about disrupting surrounding areas and emergency calls.
The Bureau of Prisons confiscated 5,116 phones in 2016, and early numbers for 2017 show an increase.

“They are physically incarcerated, but virtually they can continue their criminal ways from behind bars,” Stirling said.
Federal prisons also face a threat from drones, but officials said that technology to stop them is still emerging.