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Mobiles jammed in prisons

Published: 6:30PM Tuesday August 21, 2007 Source: ONE News

The government is about to announce new measures that will see cellphone jamming technology placed in all New Zealand prisons.

There are now more cellphones in prisons than ever before and they are being used to commit more and more crime.

In June ONE News revealed that explicit images had been taken inside Rimutaka's high security unit and sent from an illegal cellphone.

"We've been saying for years that contraband cellphones and the ability of those contraband items to get into prisons has been a major problem," says Simon Power, from the National Party.

Costing around $150 each, cellphones are hot property and it is predicted more than a thousand will be confiscated from prisoners this year alone.

There have also been instances of inmates being accused of using cellphones to carry out drug deals and prison officers caught red handed trying to smuggle phones in.

On Wednesday the Corrections Minister Damian O'Connor will announce a deal with Telecom and Vodafone, which will allow it to jam cellphones in prisons.

"It is a start but it's a start that's been forced on the department," says Power.

ONE News understands that blocking devices will be placed in all New Zealand jails, meaning that inmates will no longer be able to make phone calls, send texts or images from phones.

But not everyone is happy with the move.

"A lot of families are not going to have communication, which often is a very good stabilising influence. But I have to say they're not meant to have phones in there anyhow," says Gary Gotlieb, a defence lawyer.