The progress in cellular technology has been a major boon to most industries. With the price and size of cell phones radically shrinking, while the quality of calls has steadily improved, the cell phone industry has been adopted across more and more of the economy. Today, people who could not have dreamed that they would no longer even own a traditional telephone have cut the cord to their home phone lines for good, instead opting for the reliable and high-quality services of cellular providers.
However, there is one area in which the rapid decline of prices and increase in quality of cellular technology has been a curse rather than a blessing. Across the nation’s prison system, the last two decades have seen a proliferation of contraband cell phones that has continued to pose one of the gravest challenges to the U.S. prison system that it has ever faced.
What’s good for the economy is not always good for the law
The first cell phones were so large and cumbersome that they were rarely used outside the context of cars. These mobile telephones became known as car phones. In the early days of cellular networks, these car phones accounted for nearly the entirety of cellular communications. A feature of these car phones was their extraordinary price. In 1985, a typical phone unit might cost upwards of $6,000, in today’s dollars. The monthly usage bill for such a device often ran nearly half that again, meaning that only the wealthiest individuals could afford to maintain a lifestyle that included a cell phone.
This high price and association with the most successful people in the country made cell phones an unmistakable status symbol. This lasted through the 1980s and into the first years of the 1990s. But throughout the 90s, the price and size of cell phones began to radically diminish. By the mid-90s, handheld cell phones had replaced car phones as the main way in which people communicated over cellular networks. By the year 2000, a large percentage of the U.S. population was using cellular phones on a daily basis.
Throughout the 2000s, the first cheap and free cell phones began becoming available. What had once cost $6,000 was now routinely being given away for free as part of promotions. This had the consequence of flooding the nation’s prisons with cheap cell phones. Once these phones found their way into the hands of prison gang leaders, all kinds of grave criminality ensued.
Today, for the first time ever, Securus Technologies is offering a product that is 100-percent effective in blocking calls from contraband cell phones. Knows as the Wireless Containment System, it marks the final victory in the fight against the easy means of communication for prison gangs.