Friday, December 2, 2016

Illegal Cell Phones in Jail?

After the arrest in Lauderdale County of corrections officer Brandon Pate, we were asked about the feasibility of blocking cell phones in the detention center. The ultimate decision to block or not would lie with the county commission, but we would hope local sheriffs would offer their opinions on this controversial method to thwart illegal jail activities. Those against cell phone blocking contend that it’s basically illegal and that it would also block the staff’s cell phones—phones that might be needed in an emergency.

However, it seems there are also devices available which identify cell phone locations, thereby making confiscation easy, without blocking any transmission. Below is a link to a site describing various equipment currently available.

Punishment and security aren’t the only reasons to ban cell phones. Since no electrical outlets are available in jail cells, prisoners rig a primitive electrical connection to light fixtures in order to keep their phones going. Obviously this is a fire hazard, and if a prisoner lost his life or suffered other serious physical damage, it would be the taxpayers who would be sued.

We’re sent screen shots of Facebook pages belonging to jail inmates on an almost weekly basis. There’s no doubt that prisoners have phones; the salient question is what to do with them.



In the past two years, there have been at least two local deaths that could be termed “suicide by cop,” and at least one more incident where Florence police managed to take a man into custody without harm to anyone. These incidents won’t go away.

It’s up to the public to demand better mental health services in our communities. Those who seek to end their lives in this manner hurt not only themselves, but their families, and the officers who are forced to defend themselves. No one wants more taxes, but we all want better social services. If it comes down to one or the other, aren’t increased taxes the better choice?


  1. They know where the phones are. In the cells. They still can't find them even though the cells aren't very big.

  2. So you are asking us to pay more taxes to help mentally deranged people, when it's obvious we need tennis courts? Sheesh!!Where's your priorities?