Blocking Mobile Phone Use in Prisons

If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will fund a pilot program at a regional prison to block the use of contraband mobile phones with a view to rolling it out across the prison network.

The Problem

Contraband mobile phones in prisons allow inmates to facilitate the flow of drugs and other contraband items into prisons and also enable inmates to continue a life of crime from behind bars.

Using phones, inmates around the world have arranged murder, planned escapes, imported firearms and arranged drug imports.

Mobile phones in prisons can also enable inmates to:

  • provide orders and direction to gang members
  • communicate with and intimidate prosecution witnesses
  • communicate with family, friends and associates – a privilege that is rightfully restricted when people are incarcerated
  • photograph staff and prison premises and potentially misuse this information

Despite the current security precautions designed to prevent mobile phones from entering prisons, they are still making their way in with phones becoming smaller and easier to conceal.

Recent statistics reveal that the number of phones making their way into South Australian prisons tripled in just one year from 2014/15 to 2015/16.

This poses a serious threat to the security of correctional centres and the community more broadly who are trusting that, at the very least, prisoners are being prevented from engaging in further crime.

The State Liberals' Plan

If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will fund a pilot program at a regional prison to block the use of contraband mobile phones with a view to rolling it out across the prison network.

Mobile phone jamming technology has been successfully trialled in NSW and also in New Zealand, the United States and Israel, with current technology proving it is possible to contain the jamming to signals coming from within the correctional centre’s boundaries and not interfere with other signals.

A variety of technologies to facilitate blocking mobile phone use are readily available including jammers and managed access systems and we will use a tender process to find the best solution for the individual needs of each prison.

This measure complements our previously announced policies to stop the flow of drugs into our prisons by introducing workplace drug testing of prison officers and banning members of outlaw motorcycle gangs from visiting prisons.

It also complements the intention of our counter terrorism policy to stop the radicalisation and recruitment of prisoners by preventing them from accessing extremist materials.

Stopping the illegal use of contraband mobile phones will help prevent crime, enable prisoners to detoxify from drug addiction, prevent the radicalisation of inmates and protect prison officers and the broader community.

Part of our plan for SA