Prison Service Halts Phone-Jamming Tests

PORTLAOISE, Ireland — Irish corrections officials halted the testing of cellular phone-jamming technology at the country’s only maximum-security facility following reports that the system was interfering with legal communications in the adjacent community.
The Irish Prison Service was in the process of conducting trials of the recently installed technology at the 319-bed Portlaoise Prison in County Laois, but made the decision to suspend operational deployment after reports of coverage interruptions “in the immediate vicinity” of the prison during tests. One of zones affected includes a hospital across the street from the correctional facility, according to reports.
Jamming system trials at the maximum-security Portlaoise Prison, which together with the adjacent 516-bed medium-security Midlands Prison forms the Portlaoise-Midlands correctional complex, will be placed on hold until custom system management software can be adjusted to eliminate interference with telecommunications beyond the prison walls, officials say.
The Portlaoise-Midlands correctional complex is one of several sites chosen for the installation of three different cellular phone-jamming systems as part of a comparative evaluation of jamming technology by corrections officials.
Jamming systems have also been deployed at the 310-bed medium-security prison in Limerick and the 590-bed medium-security Mountjoy Prison, which is located in the center of Dublin and is Ireland’s largest correctional facility.
The Irish Prison Service deployed the first of the three systems at the Midlands facility in 2008, and authorities had planned to roll out the technology on an incremental basis.