12-12-2014

Inmates with Cell Phones Now Face Felony

Law

Cell phones in the hands of prisoners is a big problem for the North Carolina Department of Corrections. And, it’s not a new problem. There’s an urban legend of a death row inmate making a last ditch call to former Governor Mike Easley on a smuggled cell phone in hopes of preventing his execution. I could find no proof of this myth, but thousands of cell phones have turned up on inmates over the last couple of decades.

What can criminals behind bars do with cell phones? It’s up to their imaginations. They can order up drugs to be delivered in the body cavities of new arrivals, direct hits on outside enemies or guards, continue to run their illegal operations, etc.

What’s been the punishment for an inmate possessing a cell phone? Nothing more than a class one misdemeanor! Under provisions that took effect this month, possession of a cell phone by an inmate is now a class H felony carrying up to 39 months in prison.

Will this change stop inmates from having cell phones? No. However, unless the inmate is on death row or serving a life sentence without possibility of parole, it will make prisoners think twice about being caught with one.

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