Ohio Prison Cracks Down On Creative Ways Inmates Are Smuggling Cell Phones

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UPDATED: Thursday May 1, 2014 6:52 PM

They may be locked behind prison walls, but inmates in Ohio are still able to run criminal enterprises from inside their cells.

10TV looks at how inmates are smuggling cell phones and how prisons are fighting back.

“You know it's there, you can smell it,” orders Pickaway County Investigator Scott Thompson of Pickaway County Correctional Institution.

He’s talking to a four-legged security guard that no inmate wants to mess with.

“They know that we have her. They know her capabilities", he says.

Kaly is a two and two-and-a-half year old Belgian Malinois imported from France. She’ trained to detect the odor of cell phone batteries that contain lithium.

When she finds one, she sits.

Cell phones are illegal in prison, but inmates continue to try to smuggle them in ways you may not imagine.

“They can put them into their body cavities undetected,” says Warden Brian Cooke.

Kaly started in November. She’s helped guards find 10 pounds of tobacco, a 7 inch “shank” or homemade weapon, and a razor blade found under a picnic table.

“Smuggling cell phones are getting harder to do at Pickaway Correctional.  In 2011, they found 35 cell phones, the next year it was 11, the following year three, and so far this year they've found one,” says Warden Cooke.

He says inmates will use the cell phones to plan drops of other cell phones.

Cell phones can enter prisons in a variety of ways.  Pickaway Correctional sits on a 1,800-acre farm where roughly 100 inmates work.

The prison says this is where cell phones are dropped and where inmates pick them up

But Kaly can't find everything.

That's where a cell phone detector comes in.  When it’s on, it calibrates all the metal in a cell.  Any metal that moves passed it, it sounds a warning to alert guards to conduct a search.

“Now you just walk by with the cell phone detector and it will pick up any cell phones", says Captain Scott Batson.

Thanks to cell phone detection - both by beast and machine - the prison believes fewer cell calls are coming from behind the wire fencing, and fewer criminals are conducting crimes behind bars.

“What we are doing must be having an impact,” says Warden Cooke.

According to the Department of Corrections, inmates caught with a cell phone have their privileges taken away, but the prison doesn’t have the power to punish them beyond that.

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