Prison fights ‘cell’ phones

| 24/09/2011

(CNS): A new machine acquired by HMP Northward will help in the fight to stop inmates getting access to mobile phones and SIM cards, which officials believe may be contributing to the current surge in violent gang killings. Prison authorities have admitted for some time that cell phone use by inmates is a significant problem. The governor revealed Friday that police suspect the ‘orders’ for some of the recent killings could have come from inside the prison walls via cell phones.  The new BOSS II, which was bought by HMP Northward using a donation from the FCO, is a hyper-sensitive, non-invasive metal detector that can pinpoint where on the body a visitor or inmate could be hiding something as small as a SIM card.

While regular body scanners may pick up cell phones — though as phones get smaller and slimmer they too become harder to detect — SIM cards are particularly difficult for prison officers to find as they are much easier to hide. With SIM cards in their possession, inmates can share just one phone inside the prison, enabling them to not only intimidate witnesses, carry on illegal businesses such as drug trading and keep in touch with gang members, but also, as authorities now believe, they can use the cards and cell phones to order hits on people outside the prison from literally inside their cells.

The chair, which cost $7,500, was unveiled in the visitor’s room at Northward Prison on Friday morning when Governor Duncan Taylor explained that it works a little like an airport scanner. He said it would make it much more difficult for the cards and phones to be smuggled into the prison and improve security.

“We face a challenge with prisoners who are bringing contraband, mobile phones and SIM cards into the prison, which allows them to make inappropriate contact with people on the outside,” the governor said as he revealed the concerns that the latest frightening surge in violence may have connections to the prison.

“Cayman is in a very difficult place at the moment following five murders in eight days,” the governor said on Friday morning when the chair was unveiled to the media. “We believe that there is some contact between the criminals in Northward and some of the people involved in these crimes in the last few days.”

Dwight Scott, the prison director, said that sweeps were being conducted throughout HMP Northward to try and locate the phones and cards. He said that this issue was one of the biggest headaches in all corrections facilities and they were doing everything they could to try and find them. He explained that phones enable people in prison to continue their criminality, from ordering murders to carrying on their drugs businesses. Although the technology to detect phone signals does existy, HMP Northward does not have access to it.

The chair, Scott said, was only one of the tools that the prison continued to use to tighten security and he explained that it would also help prevent weapons getting inside the prison walls. Although the prison does not have a reputation for excessive violence or a particular problem with weapons, Scott said it was important to remain vigilant. The director pointed out that the chair will also help to detect weapons, such as prison-made knifes, known as shanks, or razor blades.

During a demonstration of the sensitivity of the chair, it was able to detect a paper clip in the mouth of one of the prison officers. Scott said the chair was also mobile, meaning it can be used to scan new inmates, visitors, staff, prisoners after they have had contact with visitors, or when they are returning from court, and it could also be used for spot check searches.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Let the politicians sit on that…maybe they'll find thier heads while they are at it

  2. Lies says:

    Pray tell how do they charge these phones?!  They are plugged in somewhere!    Do not allow the prisoners to have access to wall outlets.  Nightly and throughout the day spray acid in the prison grounds outside.  That way if anyone does throw something over the fence it is destroyed. 

    Add years to the prisoners sentence and minimum 5-10 years for providing illegal material to a criminal.  If a phone is located, get a log of all calls made and received on the phone and any individuals number called/msgd is liable for 5 years sentence.  This means that once the phone is found it will not matter whether the phone was always in the prisoners posession during his/her time in prison, every individual on the phone/msg log should be arrested and tried for aiding/facilitating criminal/gang activity and the phone would be treated as if the phone was always in the posession of the prisoner during his/her entire time spent in prison. 


  3. Truth says:

    How about no physical contact with another person during the entire time spent in prison.  Not with a guard, not with a fellow prisoner, not with a visitor.  Visits are only behind thick glass and you can see people but not touch them.  They can use phones or speakers.  Everything recorded, video and voice.  When guards move prisoners around the prisoners must be shackled hands and feet and put in straight jackets.  Prisoners are not allowed TV unless they are watching the religious channel or Carebears/Barney/ or something to that effect.  The only music they are allowed to listen to is religious music.  The walls are painted Pink and all the inmates must wear pink.  All inmates must have completely shaved heads upon entering. while an inmate should be allowed healthy meals, choices should not be allowed.  Medical care should be basic and should not be anything more than what they would be able to receive if they were not in prison.  Outside time should be discontinued. 

    Privacy removed.  Rebuild the prison.  Walls of steel. 4 feet thick.  No concrete walls inside.  Only glass walls approximately 2 feet thick.  This allows all movements to be seen throughout.  The entire prison monitored by cameras.  Hire casino video security to outfit and monitor the place.  They are accustomed to watching many video monitors at once. Have the prison underground.  The ceiling is glass 4 feet thick.  That is the prisoners only sunlight. 

    I really want to take this further by saying the prison should be in the Cayman Trench somewhere in the depths. Visitors are allowed to 'visit' through video only and can do so at the current prison location.  Prisoners are transported through submarine. Maybe this should be the maximum security facility.  Guards would not even be necessary.  Just a prison monitored by cameras with 'food' transported down weekly/monthly.  Army/space food would suffice.


    • Anonymous says:

      LOLOLOLOL….Thanks for the laugh and i completely agree with you!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Cell jammers are not an option because some other genius government department installed a cell tower to service the NW/ Eastern Districts …right next to the Prison (doh!) and it will cost way too much to move tower so….

    • Anonymous says:

      Nonsense – there are frequency specific  jammers available which only have a broadcast radius of under 200 feet. These would not affect the cell towers.

      Even if the jammers did block tower signals moving the tower would cost less than some of the party time travel of the politicians.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Those smuggling illegal items into prison ought to get at least 5 years, guards ought to get 10 years. Why is it that the authorities refuse to prosecute those that they catch smuggling?

  6. Anon says:

    Nice Chairs!

    You guys need to learn how to spell. I tried reading your message and got confused because of your spellings and grammar. What the heck? Your teachers need a beating. Most  of you writers do not know how to spell and only muddle the message which sometimes have good substance.
    I wlill be comeing two sea what they are teaching hour young people over their,(JGHS). I hair that the teachers cannot bee bothered with the students because they fair them. You parents should teach your kids sum manners two prevent fare in the school system.  And Mr. Ezzie, please sea how you can teach these young sun and dawgters to paye attention two what there teachers are teaching hat school. Bye the way, keep the cheers and the sell fones.


  7. Anonymous says:

    this chair should be used @ the clubs instead cause to much people be getting with knifes and other harmful stuff.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Why don't you just let them have the phones, interceptthe calls and feed the conversations into the RCIPS intelligence (and I use the word loosely) unit?

    It ain't rocket science and it might just clear up some of the recent crime wave. I'll bet right now they don't even go through the phone call logs when the things are seized.

    As it's illegal to have a cell phone in prison you shouldn't even need a specific warrant to monitor the calls.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Our prison really is a joke and I am so sick and tired of of hearing about the human rights for these men and women.  They forfeit their human rights when they break the law and offend the rest of us in society who are trying to live as decent humans out here amongst the degenerates who have no regard for law and normal society.  I agree with the poster that said the tools and equipment at the prison are only as good as those who use them and therein lies the problem.  XXXXX  If cameras were installed all around the prison, in all the corridors and spaces where staff and prisoners have access, and not just at the perimeter,  I am sure the public would be appalled at the way the place was run if we were given the opportunity to view the monitors on any given day.  The prisoners should be subjected to supervision at all times when they are not locked in their cells and their cells should be monitored by cameras 24/7.  That is a no brainer.  With no experience, just common sense, I am sure I could run the prison more effectively and I guarantee the cell phone problem would be the easiest one to remedy and without the $7,000.00 chair.  Come on people…wake up.  What is the point in getting gang members and murderers and armed robbers and rapists and other dregs of society off the street and giving them a nice "office" to operate from and "support staff"?  Prisoners do not end up in prison because they were trying to improve their lives…..they end up there because they made choices where that would more than likely be the outcome and they need to pay for those bad choices.  How else do people ever learn good from bad and right from wrong if the consequences for wrong doing go in their favor?????  Mr. Scott you may want to familiarise yourself with Sheriff Joe Arpaio and learn from him how prisoners should be kept and treated and compare how many of his prisoners ever reoffend to those of HMP Northward.  That should tell you what works and what doesnt and stop taking  the Cayman public for fools. 

  10. Pete The Tourist says:

    Ifinmates are receiving cell phones from visitors, then they are also receiving weapons and drugs.  Time to start searching all visitors without exception, set up a visitation room where prisoners and visitors are physically separated and can't pass items back and forth, and establish a no loitering zone around the perimeter.

    This isn't difficult stuff, people — demand that your jailers exercise a bare minimum level of  common sense and understanding of their jobs.

  11. Barking up the wrong tree again! says:

    The police is once more adding to the animosity between people when they suggest that "hits" are being placed from prison? What's the proof of this? Why make a statement like this? I am now convinced that the Police is on a path of having all those who like each other to shoot each other which in the end makes their job easier.

  12. CaymanFisting says:

    So I am guessing everyone that is allowed “recreation time” out in “the yard” will be subject to sitting in this chair before re-entering their cells correct? If not am I correct in my assumption that funds that have been distributed in a similar fashion to ensure the items thrown over the 10 foot chain linked fence, or handed thru, will be detected as well? A $7,500 chair sounds about as bright of an idea as responding to an armed robbery with a nightstick. At least the bass akwards planning can be chalked up to “a conspiracy” to drive McChicken out of office as the former _premier.

  13. iam here says:

    Hello… did anyone ever hear of a cell phone jammer ??? they sell them on ebay the best cost a few hundred ,,, but i guess that would stop the guards from chatting on the phone or selling calls to inmates ….

  14. Anonymous says:

    At least they are doing something

  15. Anonymous says:

    Better yet, buy a device that jams cell phones within the prisoner areas of Northward Prison.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I look forward for the day another type of electric chair could be used to take care of prisioners who are convicted for murders and other violent crimes.

  17. Anonymous says:

    First off, the prison and the legal system apparently were designed by idiots and continue to be what they call improved by similar idiots. Prisoners are treated so well that they want to remain in prison and there is no deterrent in the prison. On top of that government continues to listen to these human rights idiots to the point that the prison now offers just as much luxury as the Ritz Carlton, the only thing missing is a spa. Criminals are feed better than the majority of honest hardworking individuals and on top of being feed better, they are provided with weights and are allowed to work out only to be in better physical condition to assault more people when they are released. If they want to improve the prison the government and those in charge of the prison should reduce their meals to the bare minimum to sustain life and have them chip rocks at the quarry for a work out. Until the idiots in charge can pull both thumbs out of their asses and start to care more about the people that these criminal’s assault than the criminals themselves, there will forever be an issue in the prison.

    • biker says:

      Welcome to the "British Legal System", where the criminals are treated like victims and the victims are treated like criminals.

      For example: I recently read in the British "Daily Mail" newspaper where the police went to a home specifically to warn the homeowner who had put barbed wire across the windows in his garage, as it had been broken into several times by burglars.

      The "warning" was to immediately REMOVE the barbed wire, as the burglars could possibly get hurt while breaking into the said garage and could SUE the homeowner for injuries that may occur during the break in!


  18. Freedom Man says:

    Just set up a Cell Phone Blocker system at the prison.  They are very inexpensive and if the guards need to use their phones, they will have to walk outside the blocked area…come on people this is not rocket science!  WAKE UP!

  19. Anonymous says:

    This chair is probably a good idea for many reasons but I despair that cell phones are still being used. If our most senior politicians and civil servants cannot ensure control of an extremely small part of the island with restricted movement for everyone coming in and out, an area which is only a few hundred feet square, then they should not be allowed to run a bath let alone a country. 

    I am sure that there are honest and hard working prison guards I am thankful for  their efforts and mean no criticism of them. Even they must get frustrated by leadership that seems unable to solve the cell phone problem which has such simple fixes. Google cell phone signal jammers. There are many units which cost less than $500 and will completely block cell phone signals within the prison. Cell phone signal detectors are also readily available at a very low price. Why is this still a problem? Where is the accountability? The cost of fixing this is a tiny fraction of the amount of money wasted on frivilous travel by our politicians so I hope that is not the issue.

  20. Anon says:

    My first impression when I saw the photo for this article was: 'Good! The prison has a new electric chair. They have finally figured out to clean  up our thug/gang/drug problem'.

    Oh well. I would be a good idea anyway.

    • Island Prophet says:

      Anon, the truth is you made me burst out with laughter so much I cant stop.  al I can say is I am still laughing.

  21. Anonymous says:

    So why werent cells raided and searched for suspects and contra-ban seized and analyzed to see who these suspected persons were calling? or how about the person you have suspicions on actually let the visitor smuggle the phone in and then seize it at a later date and then analyze ?  

  22. Anonymous says:

    Why don't they install cellphone jamming devices, so the phones can't get a signal and they don't work? Prisoners won't have access, and guards can do their work too, instead of chatting up someone during work hours. Let me guess, that would be against some ridiculous telecommunications law.

    • Anonymous says:

      No silly! This would mean that the employees couldn't use their personal cell phones while on duty either and we wouldn't want them to be inconvenienced now, would we?

  23. Anonymous says:

    A machine/tool is only as good as the person using it.

  24. Anonymous says:

    before we get all the idiot comment about why should they be allowed phone calls in prison in the first place. its a human right ok? phones or "land lines" are provided for inmates on wings. they purchase cards through their earnings and have access to phones that way.

    the problem is their family and friends smuggle phones into the prison. hide them outside of the prison for pick up by outside inmate workers to pick up and smuggle in for them also.

    it is a never ending battle to find contraband in jails all over the world. officers do their very best given the minimum financial assistance from government for technology etc.

    of all the government jobs i think these people have the worst and most dangerous job followed or equalled by the police only.

    please show some encouragement for these people at northward and not slag them off for trying their upmost.


    thank you

  25. Anonymous says:

    Cell Phone Jammer should be in effect. This is the newest technology. Its cheap too.Couple hundred dollars.Just plug it in and all the cell phone signals are blocked…problem solved.

    • Truthseeker says:

      Cell phones jammed………including those belonging to the guards!

  26. Anonymously IRON CLAD says:

    Why the HELL do we need a machine to prevent inmates from acquiring cell phones???

    What happened the old MANUAL system of allowing ONLY CERTAIN goods to be brought into the visiting areas and the monitoring of visitation? What ever happened to SEARCHING the inmates after visitation???

    What about changing the systemof visitation whereby SEPARATING INMATES from their visitors when visiting or the absolute monitoring of visitation.

    What about random searches of the prison cells???

    What about video cameras for the perimeter fencing to monitor for family/associates throwing items over the fence for inmates combined with a law/penalty of automatic emprisonment/added time for BOTH parties??? Perhaps cement walls so the suckers cant see out and visitors cant see in?


    • B.B.L. Brown says:

      Right on, Iron Clad!  Prison isn't supposed to be a bed of roses. ….. It's supposed to be punishment for crimes committed.  I don't believe prisoners should have cell phones, period!  As for drugs, it seems they are available in the majority of prisons, as is tobacco, which is detrimental to one's health.  The government picks up the tab for healthcare of the prisoners, so why have anything harmful to one's health available?  Prisons are getting to be too much like resorts!