The role of private companies in the U.S. prison system has long been a source of heated debate. Many critics of the public-private system that has taken shape see no legitimate role for private industry operating within the nation’s carceral institutions. Yet there is incontrovertible evidence that many prison contractors have been directly responsible for major improvements in inmate quality of life, prison safety and even reductions in the recidivism rate.
One example is that of Securus Technologies, which is a major provider of inmate communications services throughout the U.S. prison system. Securus has spent billions of dollars over the last decade on wide-ranging research and development projects. It has developed such novel and highly popular technologies as its virtual visitation system, which has surpassed even traditional phone calls in popularity.
But one of the most novel technologies that the company has developed over the last few years is its Wireless Containment System. Derived from military technology developed by the Department of Defense for use in the theaters of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Wireless Containment System is a powerful tool in the fight against contraband cell phones in the nation’s prisons. It is able to detect and intercept any unauthorized cellular communications coming from within prison grounds. The WCS is able to effectively block 100-percent of illegal cellular calls, giving the user a message that the call was unable to be completed. It also gives officers the capability to locate, with pinpoint accuracy, any contraband cellular device that is turned on within its operating radius.
The Wireless Containment System has proven to be extremely effective. Early results indicate that the device is capable of virtually eliminating the usefulness of all unauthorized cellular devices within its range of operation. The system would never have been brought to fruition without the intensive research and development efforts of Securus, including the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars.
Today, Securus is beginning to distribute the Wireless Containment System to jails and prisons across the United States. Although the system has not been given the full go-ahead from the FCC, it has been deployed in some more remote locations throughout the country. So powerful is the WCS that the Federal Communications Commission has voiced concern about its ability to interfere with legitimate cellular traffic located outside of the prisons where it is deployed.
Securus has been able to demonstrate, however, that the system’s area of operation can be effectively contained to within only the area of the prison itself, sparing innocent civilians from having their ability to place calls blocked.
The company believes that by the end of next year, the system will be installed in up to half of the nation’s carceral institutions.