Cells and cell phones

April 7, 2009 

I recently wrote to Gov. Beverly Perdue regarding an imprisoned friend of mine who, while on work release, was found guilty of using a cell phone at his job. He was immediately moved from a minimum to a medium security prison, lost his job, placed in "the hole" for 30 days and has had a full year added to his sentence. This costs the state some $30,000 extra -- because this young man used a cell phone to call friends. He was trusted enough to work in public, but received this draconian punishment for using a cell phone.

A response from the prison public affairs office defended their actions on the grounds that inmates could use phones to threaten victims, carry on illegal activities and "convert them into incendiary devices." I also understand that a car can be used to kill a person, but what if it is used to go to work?

I wish prisoners could make affordable calls to their families via a prison phone for a reasonable rate. The legislature needs to be careful how it responds to the cell phone issue. Raising incarceration costs may not be the best answer.

Larry Bumgardner

Durham

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