Justice Dept. scrambles to jam prison cellphones, stop drone deliveries to inmates

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The Justice Department will soon start trying to jam cellphones smuggled into federal prisons and used for criminal activity, part of a broader safety initiative that is also focused on preventing drones from airdropping contraband to inmates. Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein told the American Correctional Association's conference in Orlando on Monday that, while the law prohibits cellphone use by federal inmates, the Bureau of Prisons confiscated 5,116 such phones in 2016, and preliminary numbers for 2017 indicate a 28 percent increase. "That is a major safety issue," he said in his speech. "Cellphones are used to run criminal enterprises, facilitate the commission of violent crimes and thwart law enforcement." When he was the U.S. attorney in Maryland, Rosenstein prosecuted an inmate who used a smuggled cellphone to order the murder of a witness.