Getting Cell Phone Out of Prison

State Senator John Whitmire is vowing to crackdown on Texas prisons and the people who run them. Whitmire is leading the charge after receiving phone calls from a death row inmate who allegedly bribed a guard to smuggle in a phone. Bill Stamps has the latest.
"There's no telling the kind of crime and enterprise they were running out of death row."

Death row is supposed to be the most secure area in prison. But an inmate somehow managed to get a cell phone and share it with other death row inmates. Some of the calls were made to State Senator John Whitmire. Whitmire held an emergency hearing with lawmaker and prison officials to discuss the matter. He says officials have admitted to him there is a problem."

"I believe there's a mentality that says let the prisoners have their perks. And that way they'll kind of cooperate and not blow things up. So yeah, we've got some internal and external security problems."

Whitmire wants to jam all phone signals in prisons, but some have questioned whether that's legal.

"We're gonna have it changed. But yeah, I woulda jammed em. Hell, what are they gonna do to you. We're jamming death row-capitol murder criminals phones."

After looking into the matter, Whitmire believes its going to take more than just jamming phone signals to solve the problem.

"We just have to raise our game at the door and back door of our prisons and I'm gonna send a letter to our prison officials. I want a time table for when they're gonna put metal detectors and surveillance cameras and drug dogs."

And even if things don't change right away, he says, he'll keep fighting.

I'm not gonna rest till its fixed.

Bill Stamps KUHF Houston Public Radio News.