LA Times: "Bill to bar prison cellphones passes key vote in California Senate"

By Jack Dolan, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Sacramento -- A proposed law against taking cellphones into California prisons passed a key vote Tuesday, but the measure would exempt prison employees — considered a main source of phones used to arrange crimes from behind bars — from screening by metal detectors as they go to work.

Requiring prison guards to stand in line for airport-like security checks would cost the state millions, according to legislative analysts. That is because members of the politically powerful corrections officers union are paid for "walk time" — the minutes it takes to get from their cars, or the front gate, to their posts inside the prisons.

Amid the state's budget crisis, any proposal that would cost money is a "dead end," said Bill Mabie, spokesman for state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), sponsor of the cellphone bill.

In this 2009 file photo, Correctional Officer Jose Sandoval inspects one of the more than 2,000 cellphones confiscated from inmates at California State Prison, Solano, in Vacaville. The use of illicit cellphones by inmates has exploded in recent years, enabling them to arrange crimes in the outer world from behind prison walls. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press / April 10, 2009)>>FULL STORY<<

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