News & Politics

The <i>New Yorker</i> Has a Laugh Over Cell Phone Sniffing Dogs In Prison

The vast majority of prisoners using cell phones are just tying to stay connected to family, friends and loved ones.

Shame on Ian Frazier and The New Yorker.

Frazier is a writer for that bastion of liberal magazines, and he published an article (puff piece) about cell-phone sniffing dogsin the New Jersey correctional system.

No, it’s not really a puff piece -- “puff pieces” generally don’t have a deleterious affect on people or segments of society, as Frazier’s piece does on inmates throughout the country.

The piece does a great job of allowing New Jersey corrections officials to laud their own efforts to overthrow that most evil beast, the cell phone in prison. The piece goes on to report about New Jersey corrections training its own dogs on how to sniff out cell phones, and the wonderful results of that training, which is the seizure of more than 130 cell phones from us dastardly, evil inmates.

New Jersey corrections ballyhoos itself quite well about how much the agency is saving over states like California, which has contracted cell phone sniffers to come in at exorbitant rates, depleting our already woefully depleted budget. At least the New Jersey corrections folks got something right.

The corrections agency goes on to say how dangerous and threatening all us inmates are with cell phones, how it’s pretty much only gang members and drug dealers who purchase the phones and call out hits on unsuspecting witnesses and victims.

The puff piece, uh, I mean, article, quotes a staff member/trainer who doesn't want to say what the dogs smell while sniffing for the phones but says it’s something organic.

I say, boink. Lets think about what’s in a cell phone that’s not in a TV or radio -- and that’s organic. Wow, tough one ….

And behind door number one we have the lithium ion battery! Lithium batteries use an organic alkali. Smell your battery, people; it has it’s own distinct and somewhat earthy scent. But I am no scientist and am purely guessing.

Shame on Frazier for not finding out the answers to some key questions -- and shame on the editorial staff of The New Yorker for not pushing Frazier to ask some of these questions:

1. How much does it cost an inmate in New Jersey to make a collect call?

2. How often are inmates allowed to make phone calls?

3. Are the visitors really the main way cells phones are coming in? And how do the inmates deposit cell phones and chargers into their body cavities in the visiting room anyway? (They must have lax visiting standards in New Jersey).

4. How much does a cell phone cost an inmate in New Jersey?

Just A Guy is an inmate in a California state prison. His dispatches run twice a week.
Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Election 2018