California prison officials want to stop prison inmates like convicted murderer Charles Manson from reaching out and touching people with smuggled cell phones.
Prison guards confiscated the flip phone for the man behind one of the most infamous killing sprees in U.S. history after he placed calls and sent text messages to people in California, Florida, New Jersey and British Columbia, Canada, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.
"It's troubling that he had a cell phone since he's a person who got other people to murder on his behalf," a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections told the Times.
The spokeswoman, Terry Thornton, also told the Times she didn't know if Manson ordered anyone during a call to commit a crime.
Authorities have urged the Federal Communications Commission to grant them authority to jam cell phone signals at prisons, but telecommunications lobbyists have told the agency that jamming would also block non-inmates near prisons from making calls.
Officials told the Times that prison inmates use the phones to run drug rings, intimidate witnesses and plan escapes yet being in possession of a cell phone isn't a crime in the Golden State.
President Obama signed into law during the summer a bill making smuggling cell phones into federal prisons a crime, but that law doesn't apply to state prisons, the Times reported. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill in September that would have fined people providing cell phones to prisoners $5,000, the Times reported.
In California prisons, authorities told the Times the number of cell phones confiscated has been on the rise from 1,400 in 2007, when confiscations were first recorded, to 8,675 thus far in 2010.
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