Prisoners with Power

March 9, 2009

By Sally Edgar

When people are sent to jail it should be a punishment not a period of respite. Punishment should include the sacrifice of freedom and not only in a physical respect. Mobile phones allow the freedom of communication, and if prisoners continue to smuggle this technology inside prison walls, they have a luxury that is far from deserved. This is why the new law in Scotland to extend the sentance of anyone found in possession of a mobile phone is an encouraging development. If caught, prisoners could face a 30 day extension, but will this deterent really work? I doubt an an extra month would seem so daunting to someone already enduring a life sentance. This home comfort would probably seem worthwhile for the power that it could bring and I am sure that the majority of prisoners would put the luxury item to good use.jail-cell-729928

Contact with the outside world can allow prisoners to carry on their wheeling and dealing from the comfort of their own cell. If they have access to their former life, then they have the power to continue organising crime and even threatening witnesses. Last year’s news of killer James Demarco ordering a machete attack from Edinburgh’ Saughton Prison (as he listened to the event take place) shows just how dangerous this power can be. This case could have been prevented had the use of mobile phones been controlled more effectively.

Officials are obviously aware of the dangers that come from the access to mobile phones. This is reflected in the further plans to issue signal blocking in prison grounds. New mobile phone technology means that handsets are decreasing in size and they are therefore easier to be concealed by in-mates. The phone would, however, be useless if there is no connection.

Along with this, the Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill, which goes before parliament next year, suggests increasing the penalty for using mobile phones in prison to up to two years. This time period is more drastic and would surely discourage people to greater effect. If signal is limited and suitable punishment is enforced then maybe one day prisoners will live their sentance with no freedom, no comforts and most importantly of all no power.


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