Prison Inmates Given 3x the Time on Phone

Lt. Ken Dougherty
Lt. Ken Dougherty

The ban on regular phone use for Texas state prisoners has been lifted.

Newschannel 10 found out why state legislators say they are no longer worried that more phone access will allow inmates to continue plotting criminal activity.

New technology that is designed to effectively monitor and record inmate calls is being placed in prisons across the state.

With the extra security in place state legislators have decided it is safe to allow about 120,000 inmates to purchase 120 minutes of phone time a month.

And call length will increase to 15 minute intervals compared to the previous allowance of one five minute call every 90 days.

Potter County Jail is using a similar system to the systems being installed in state prisons. Phone calls are recorded and saved for up to a few months, but are not listened to unless there is a sign there may be trouble.

Lt. Ken Dougherty says, "They have a system that we call Kites. They will put a note on a piece of paper and then they will throw it under the door from their cell. Or they use fishing line. They take a thread from their socks and tie them together, tie them to notes. Or if you have a change of overall atmosphere or mood within the jail, but those are triggers that we look for."

Lieutenant Dougherty says while an officer is not listening to every phone call there is no need to worry about plotting criminal activity.

"I don't think there will any change to the general citizens," he says, "I don't think it's going to cause any problems or issues as far as safety by allowing an inmate to talk on the phone 10 more minutes. In 15 minute intervals instead of five. "

Inmate calls are limited to friends and family members on an approved list of visitors and all calls to victims and their families is prohibited.