DOC: half of all contraband cell phones make it into prisons - CBS46 News


DOC: half of all contraband cell phones make it into prisons

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In recent weeks, CBS46 has asked to interview state prisoners for various news stories. That's never been a problem in the past. But since Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal appointed a new commissioner of corrections, the answer has either been no, or no response at all.

So, what's going on in Georgia's prisons?

In a previous report, we revealed inmates with Facebook pages and internet access, using social media to sell drugs and even order hits.

CBS46 has now gone to the top and uncovered the shocking truth about a problem that's out of control.

A news crew and camera isn't allowed inside Macon State Prison, but you can see what's happening anyway on Facebook.

Shawn Mosley calls himself "Juice." It looks like he's running the place. Mosley boasts of the money he's making and the drugs he's using and selling.

Vic Reynolds is the district attorney of Cobb County, which is just northwest of Atlanta. It's also where Mosley was convicted. Reynolds was outraged when CBS46's Sally Sears pointed him to the inmate's Facebook page.

"It indicates to me that they have a number of problems in that prison system," Reynolds said.

When asked what he thought the man's victim must think, Reynolds said, "We've entrusted the people at DOC to run the prisons, and I know that's a tough job. I mean it's a tough crowd of folks you're dealing with, but it certainly should not get to the point where they have access to these types of devices. It's just not appropriate."

Cell phones and drugs are getting into the prison in various ways. One of the most outrageous ways is through the carcass of a dead cat.

"Contraband. Huge issues within the prison system and the big problem is cell phones," said Homer Bryson, who took over as commissioner of corrections in February.

When CBS46 showed up at the Board of Corrections monthly public meeting, Bryson said the department is doing all it can.

The meeting includes the overseers of Georgia's prisons, well aware they have a serious problem on their hands.

"It's something that we're constantly battling," Bryson said.

Cell phone internet access so rampant, even when Mosley was disciplined with solitary confinement in the hole, he complained on Facebook about lousy cell phone coverage.

Bryson connected us with his director of professional standards, Ricky Myrick, who was candid about prisoners and their cellphones.

"It's a very lucrative thing to have as an inmate because you can continue to conduct your criminal activities that you were doing when you were outside. Now, you can do that from the inside," Myrick said.

In the 2015 fiscal year, 7,600 cell phones were seized in Georgia prisons.

"An educated guess, I think we're getting half before they get in, to maybe a little better I hope," Myrick said. "It's very difficult, and I understand that, for the general public to figure out how this stuff can be making it in."

Making the job harder is court decisions on the rights of inmates.

"Yeah, I think they should have a life, but they don't need a damn telephone to have it. I mean, that's ridiculous to me," Reynolds said.

The going price for a phone on the inside is $500-1,000. 

"We currently are arresting between 20 and 30 individuals monthly, trying to smuggle contraband into our facilities, and that's a combination of both our staff and visitors, unfortunately," Myrick said. "Not very many people in the country want to be a corrections officer."

One guard is Armeya Cannon, an "Employee of the Quarter."

She's confiscated plenty of cell phones, including half a dozen that came in the mail, sealed neatly in a box of pop tarts.

"If I hadn't of ran it through the machine, we would have thought that it was just pop tarts," Cannon said.

On four different occasions, drones were intercepted, carrying cell phones, and others may have gotten through.

And then there's the dead cat.

"Cut it open, cleaned out the contents of the body and used the carcass to stuff several cell phones and several rolls of smokeless tobacco back inside. They sewed it up and tossed the cat back over the fences," Myrick said.

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