The Semi-Detonated Grenade Of Phones In Our Jails

Mobile phones have for at least, the past two decades, become indispensable companions in our daily lives. They come in handy in diverse circumstances and have undoubtedly become tools for social cohesion today.

Communication in all forms is facilitated by mobile phones; voice and video calls, text messages and various multimedia messages are transmitted through this medium. Businesses, families and acquaintances are sustained through the constant use of mobile phones.

With the increasing need to use mobile phones in our daily lives comes a major security challenge: mobile phones in jails. Prisons are a reflection of society and so incarcerated persons are expected to have use for mobile phones. Most prisons in Ghana operate communication centres where inmates are allowed limited call times with family and friends, though to the hearing and understanding of a supervising officer.

The issue under the circumstance is, most inmates want to own and freely operate mobile phones behind bars, a prohibited act in our prisons.

How Do Phones Get Into Prisons?

No security system is foolproof, a reason for which some prohibited articles find their way into prisons. With the high demand of mobile phones in prison comes a willing number of persons risking their smuggling for monetary gains.

A number of phones in our facilities are smuggled in by visitors who come to visit incarcerated persons. They are concealed in obscure areas of items they bring to inmates making it difficult for gate security officers without appropriate gadgets like scanners and metal detectors to notice. Others conceal them in their hair, footwear, underwear and other parts of their bodies.

In other circumstances, inmates sent out for outdoor labour, medical care and courts have the tendency of smuggling contrabands into facilities if escorting officers lose supervision the slightest bit. There are disgusting cases where inmates insert portable phones and accessories into their anus to outwit security at the prison gate.

There are circumstances also where corrupt prison staff engages in mobile phone smuggling and trade with inmates. These individuals mostly conceal the contrabands in accoutrements like boots, caps and under their belts as they attempt to outwit security at the gate. Gate security officers at the Ankaful Maximum Security Prison in the past two years have apprehended five prison staff who attempted to smuggle contrabands including mobile phones into the facility.

All persons found culpable of smuggling prohibited articles into prisons are handed over to the police for prosecution. Prison staff and inmates involved in this act apart from criminal prosecution, undergo service disciplinary procedures and suffer appropriate sanctions. The trial and imprisonment of a prison officer in April, 2018 to 13yrs IHL for hauling contrabands into a prison is testimony that, no prison staff engaged in activities which expose the security of our prisons and or brings the name of the service into disrepute is shielded.