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Nebraska lawmakers advance ban on cellphones in prisons

May 16, 2019

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Prison visitors and inmates who are caught with cellphones inside a state prison could face a misdemeanor charge under a bill advanced by Nebraska lawmakers.

Lawmakers gave the measure first-round approval Wednesday as part of an omnibus prisons package.

The bill is designed to help state corrections officials, who confiscated more than 250 contraband phones last year. Nebraska corrections director Scott Frakes told a legislative committee in January that it's a major problem in the state prisons.

A report last year from the Inspector General of the Nebraska Correctional System identified cellphones as a "significant safety concern" because inmates can use them to coordinate gang activity and communicate in secret with the outside world.

The measure advanced on a 40-0 vote.