Green votes for inmate cell phone ban

LANSING – Michigan veterans could benefit from legislation approved by the state Senate on Tuesday that would prohibit prisoners from possessing or using cell phones, said Sen. Mike Green.

“Allowing prisoners to use cell phones is a threat to the safety of guards and the general public,” said Green, R-Mayville. “Cell phones can be used to plan escapes and traffic drugs. I supported this reform to ensure safety by getting these phones out of the hands of convicted felons.”

Senate Bill 551 would prohibit a prisoner from possessing or using a cellular telephone or wireless device in a prison or correctional facility. Senate Bill 552 would enact the cell phone ban for inmates in jails and also prohibit an individual from selling, giving or furnishing a cell phone to a prisoner in a jail.

“In addition to protecting public safety, these measures will also benefit our veterans,” Green said. “Instead of just disposing of the confiscated cell phones, this legislation would require that the devices be donated to Soldiers Incorporated, which provides valuable services to our veterans.”

The cell phone or other wireless device would be donated only if it is still serviceable and no longer needed for purposes of a criminal prosecution. If enacted into law, violations would be a felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment, a maximum fine of $1,000 or both.

The bills have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.