If a few years ago the prohibited items that were seized the most in prison were “sharp objects and drugs”, today the prison officials in Cáceres seize the most from inmates serving sentences in this center are mobile phones. In 2021 alone, 48 devices and ten chargers have been seized from as many prisoners, when in 2015 11 phones and nine chargers were seized, four times less.
The director of the Cáceres penitentiary center, Nahum Álvarez, is not very clear about the causes of this phenomenon, which, according to what he indicates, is increasing. “Calls with these phones don’t make much sense, unless they want to communicate with someone they can’t,” says Álvarez, who explains that inmates have the possibility of making up to 15 phone calls a week, “including video calls.”
But how do prisoners camouflage these technological devices to save the security of a prison? Álvarez points out that in Cáceres there has been no case related to its own personnel in which they have turned a blind eye when trying to sneak a terminal into the jail, a practice for which, he assures, there are procedures open to officials in other centers.
In the Cáceres prison, cell phones sneak in, as he details, between the entrance clothes or when returning from a permit, “because although they are frisked, sometimes they are not detected.” “Because they are so small, some women insert them into the interior cavities,” says the director.
And it is that the telephones that are quoted behind bars are not the latest generation ‘smartphones’ with internet connection that proliferate in the street, but rather “minimobiles”, small devices to receive or make calls, that cost little money and that “in many cases” they are designed with the purpose of putting them in prisons.
“Because they are so small, some women insert mobile phones into internal cavities to put them in prison”
“These calls don’t make much sense, unless they want to communicate with someone they can’t, because they have 15 calls a week”
The director acknowledges that there is concern about the increase in the number of devices seized in the last five years, which total 140. However, he clarifies that the majority of prisoners do not use them for the purposes of criminal organization or to continue committing crimes as it can happen in other prisons where inmates are serving sentences for such crimes.
«You could say that our inmates are petty criminals, that’s why these cases are minor here, because there are hardly any people in organized gangs. Some may want to connect with his ex-partner, but it is not generalized », Álvarez emphasizes.
On the other hand, it stands out that none of the confiscated devices were hidden by women, “perhaps because this department is much smaller than that of men and it is more difficult to camouflage them,” he maintains.
The Cáceres prison currently has 15 women inmates and 300 men also in prison. Those who enjoy the open regime in the social insertion center (CIS) have been allowed to use a mobile phone for a little over a year.
The seized devices are kept in the prison facilities, since legally no one can appropriate them.
The Acaip-UGT union warns of the black market that is created inside the prison and the problems it causes as they are “highly valued” devices. Its use, he warns, can generate debts and incidents among inmates, therefore, “prison workers dedicate great efforts to the confiscation of these objects, most of which are easily camouflaged due to their small size and escape metal detectors. as its components are made of plastic».
In a press release, the group indicates that orderly coexistence within prisons is essential to fulfill reintegration and reeducation, and the introduction of prohibited objects harms the normal functioning of a penitentiary center, for which the material means and enough humans to prevent their entry and carry out internal control. “But all this requires the proper functioning of the prison inhibitors and that they adapt to new technologies. If we limit the possibilities of use, we reduce the usefulness and prevent illicit trade.
The union insists on the need to fill all the vacancies because “the new promotions barely cover the vegetative casualties.”
In addition, he adds, the organization chart must be adapted to the new forms of crime, and the list of jobs must be resized to adjust them to the new functions. That is why “it is necessary to resume the negotiation of the Prison Public Function Law to face the new challenges facing the institution,” he concludes.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.