Exclusive: Contraband phones inside Parchman - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Exclusive: Contraband phones discovered inside Parchman

Posted: Updated:
Our investigation uncovered pictures of Weakley posing with a cell phone inside prison walls, and obviously someone else is snapping the picture. Our investigation uncovered pictures of Weakley posing with a cell phone inside prison walls, and obviously someone else is snapping the picture.

David Weakley is serving 21 years at Parchman for possession of cocaine, carjacking, and possession of stolen property. But our investigation uncovered pictures of Weakley posing with a cell phone inside prison walls, and obviously someone else is snapping the picture.

Cell phones inside any correctional facility in Mississippi is forbidden. Several weeks ago we showed you pictures and video of inmates at the Hinds County Detention Center in Raymond smoking and using phones.

MDOC Commissioner Chris Epps was not able to interview with us for this story, so we turned to a prison warden-turned-lawmaker, Representative Tommy Taylor of Bolivar County.

"You're gonna see this. It's not unusual. But putting it on a cell phone, social media, it is unusual," Representative Taylor tells us. "Your visitors, they bring it in. Then you have your officers who need a little extra money."

Taylor says tight leadership will help prevent the contraband. Commissioner Epps' office says they're using various means to combat contraband, including the Managed Access System (MAS) which intercepts all incoming and outgoing cell phone signals. MDOC launched the first MAS in the country in 2010.

There's a long list of other tools, including body scanners, netting, monthly searches of all prisons (state-run, private and regional), guest searches, weekly searches for Wi-Fi, K-9 cell phone detector dogs, wand metal detectors, and walk-through metal detectors. There is also a body cavity detection system called "The Boss Chair".

Additionally, there are zero privilege units for inmates caught with cell phones or any cell phone component, and added penalties including the loss of six months trusty time.

Inmate Weakley received a rule violation report for being in possession of a cell phone, a major contraband. The incident occurred in January 2014, and he lost 180 days of earned time as a disciplinary measure.

We are still awaiting the outcome of the investigation at the Hinds County Detention Center.

On Tuesday afternoon, Commissioner Epps released the following to us:

Recently, the Mississippi Department of Corrections learned that the system designed to intercept all cell phone signals was down at the State Penitentiary at Parchman. This system is known as the Managed Access System, which the department was the first to use in the country when it was launched in August 2010. An investigation determined that the outage was weather-related.

"Keeping cell phones out of the hands of inmates is a never-ending battle," Commissioner Epps said. "Therefore, we are constantly adding to our illegal cell phone interdiction efforts. But while we are doing all we can with these different measures, there are some inmates who are getting on Facebook or who are sending out cell phone pictures. When we catch them with cell phones or any cell phone component, they are placed in a zero privilege unit where they lose six months of earned time."

Other anti-contraband measures (some of which are outlined above) include:

* body scanners
* 40 feet netting on the outer perimeter fences
* monthly searches of all areas of all prisons (state-run, private and regional);
* 100 percent searches of everyone entering the prison.
* weekly searches for WiFi Internet signals of all prisons
* the Boss Chair "body cavity detection system"
* K-9 cell phone detector dogs
* hand wand metal detectors
* walk-through metal detection systems

Also, introduction of contraband into a correctional facility is punishable by three to 15 years in prison, a maximum $25,000 fine, or both. Conspiracy to introduce contraband carries up to a $5,000 fine, five years imprisonment, or both.


Copyright 2014 MSNewsNow. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow

208 DeBuys Road
Biloxi, MS 39531
(228) 896-1313

FCC Public File
EEO Report
Closed Captioning

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WLOX. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.