The full Senate has approved a measure that would require the director of the Department of Corrections (DOC) to develop an annual report detailing issues related to contraband cellphone use in Oklahoma prisons.
Sen. Darcy Jech, R-Kingfisher, proposed Senate Bill 1164 after hosting an interim study about the illegal use of cellphones behind bars. The measure would require the annual report to include the current status of contraband cellphones from the more than 30 DOC facilities across the state, the number of devices collected in the current year and an updated plan of action to address the issue. The yearly report would be given to the governor, President Pro Tempore of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“Contraband cellphones can pose serious security threats to inmates, correctional officers and civilians,” Jech said. “With cellphone access, inmates can initiate violence, make threats and participate in drug deals and other crimes all while still behind bars.”
In 2019, more than 150 inmates in an Oklahoma prison instigated acts of violence led by gang leaders and members behind bars. The acts were facilitated by cellphone communication and spread to five other prisons in the state.
DOC director Scott Crow has previously stated that contraband cellphones, which are often smuggled in by visitors, are the number one security threat in Oklahoma prisons.
“I don’t believe there’s a one size fits all solution for contraband cellphones in our prisons,” Jech said. “However, an annual report outlining the problem will help DOC and policy makers analyze the issue and provide a mechanism to track progress each year.”
The measure now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration. Rep. Carl Newton, R-Cherokee, is the House principal author.
For more information, contact: Sen. Darcy Jech at 405-521-5545, or email Darcy.Jech@oksenate.gov.
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