MDOC: Contraband cell phones donated to charities

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - Contraband cell phones have long been a headache for prison officials. Now, the confiscated phones are getting a second life helping crime victims, soldiers and their families.

Hundreds of usable phones are being distributed to non-profit groups such as Cell Phones for Soldiers and a host of crime victims, crime victim advocacy groups, homicide survivors' coalitions, vulnerable adults and domestic violence shelters.

Suzanne MaGee, an advocate for Gulf Coast Women's Center for Non-violence and Chair of Mississippi Coalition for Survivors of Homicide Victims, said, "We proudly accept the donated cell phones from MDOC. It is imperative that crime victims and their families have the support they need, and the cell phone donations is certainly welcome assistance."

In 2013, MDOC confiscated 1,746 illegal cell phones in its three prisons. Already in 2014, MDOC has confiscated more than 511 cell phones.

"I lose a lot of sleep worrying about cell phones. We have proof they have been used in escapes, to put hits out on people, and for other criminal activities," said Corrections Commissioner Christopher B. Epps. "But it's very satisfying when we can then turn that corruption into something positive for crime victims and our military."

Those convicted of bringing contraband into a correctional facility face 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.

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