California Inmates Losing Cell Phone Privileges

California criminal defense attorneys and friends and family of California prison inmates know that cell phone sales and usage is rampant in California’s prison system. A new law aims to criminalize the possession and sale of cell phones in prisons but hardly addresses the extremely lucrative business practice of prison guards selling phones to inmates.

According to State Prisons Crack Down on Cell Phones, SB 26 by Sen. Alex Padilla D-Los Angeles, makes it a misdemeanor for inmates, visitors and guards to have cell phones in prison.

Despite the fact that the prison can shut down all cell service into the facility, criminalizing having phones seemes to be the solution of the day. In reality, cell phone sales is a big buisness in prison. Prison guard unions are seen as the biggest obstacle to keeping cell phones from inmates, according to the Los Angeles Times.

As long as prison guards are corrupt, thinking they are the prison version of AT&T and Verizon (“Those guys make billions off of vulnerable consumers so why can’t I?”), trying to keep cell phones out of prisons requires more than putting a new misdemeanor on the books.


The Johnson Criminal Law Group advocates for prison reform in California and for holding corrupt law enforecement officers accountable. Contact us for your criminal defense needs.