ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley unveiled a new cell phone security system Friday at the Baltimore City Detention Center.
The technology automatically blocks calls from all cell phones inside the building, except a small number of phones assigned to employees. It also allows any phone to call 911.
It's a misdemeanor to smuggle a phone into a Maryland correctional facility. In 2007, an inmate used a cell phone to arrange the killing of a Baltimore County witness.
The announcement comes in the wake of last year's federal indictments against 44 people, including 27 corrections officers. They are accused of participating in a contraband- and drug-smuggling scheme involving the Black Guerrilla Family gang at the detention center. Members distributed drugs to fellow detainees and used contraband cell phones to arrange sexual encounters, spread word about impending cell searches and conduct gang-related business with members on the street, according to the indictment.
The phone blocking system has been up and running since Dec. 30, said Rick Binetti, a state corrections spokesman. The facility has been tweaking it since then.