Inmates with cell phones a growing threat to guards | National Union of Public and General Employees

Inmates with cell phones a growing threat to guards

129 known instances over three years in federal prisons indicates likelihood of much larger problem across Canada.

Ottawa (6 Jan. 2011) - Correctional officers across Canada are expressing growing concern about the number of cell phones making their way through prison walls and into the hands of inmates.

The illicit presence of cell phones behind prison walls involves instances in which inmates have been caught organizing drug deals, directing criminal organizations and plotting escape.

CBC News reports that a total of 129 cell phone incidents in 57 federal prisons were recorded in Canada between 2007 and 2010, including 2 in the Atlantic region, 12 in Quebec, 22 in Ontario, 69 in the Prairies and 24 in the Pacific region.

Over the last year, three illegal cell phones have been discovered inside the walls of Manitoba prisons, says Ken Crawford, corrections representative for the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE). Contraband enters prison in various ways, including visitors.

Crawford said the problem poses an addition risk to the safety of corrections officers.

"We have no control over the discussions that are occurring between the offender and whoever they choose to talk to," he notes.

No comparable statistics are available for provincial institutions but many prison officials believe the true number of phones stashed inside correctional facilities is much higher — possibly in the thousands, CBC News reports.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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