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JACKSON, Miss. (Press Release) — Crime victims, soldiers and their families are benefiting from a contraband that the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) is eager to find and get rid of — Cellphones.

“People will use any means to get cell phones into prisons,” said Corrections Commissioner and American Correctional Association President Christopher B. Epps. “And MDOC will continue to distribute those confiscated devices to people who actually need them.”

In 2013, MDOC confiscated 1,746 illegal cell phones in its three prisons. Thus far, in 2014, MDOC has confiscated over 511 cell phones. Those usable cell phones have and continue to be distributed to non-profit groups such as Cell Phones for Soldiers and a host of crime victims, crime victim advocacy groups, homicide survivors’ coalitions, vulnerable adults and domestic violence shelters.

Suzanne MaGee. advocate for Gulf Coast Women’s Center for Non-violence and Chair of Mississippi Coalition for Survivors of Homicide Victims said, “We proudly accept the donated cell phones from MDOC. It is imperative that crime victims and their families have the support they need, and the cell phone donations is certainly welcome assistance.”

In observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (April 6-12), Epps said the donation to crime victims especially is one good way to help restore the balance of justice as this year’s theme, 30 Years: Restoring the Balance of Justice, states.

“I lose a lot of sleep worrying about cell phones. We have proof they have been used in escapes, to put hits out on people, and for other criminal activities,” Epps said. “But it’s very satisfying when we can then turn that corruption into something positive for crime victims and our military.”

MDOC uses a variety of preventive measures to reduce the number of cell phones making their way into prisons, such as weekly searches for WiFi Internet signals at all prisons, netting around prison perimeters, increased searches, Managed Access Systems, Boss Chairs “body cavity detection systems,” K-9 cell phone detector dogs, hand wand metal detectors, and walk-through metal detection systems.

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