Contraband devices snuck in by visitors or prison staff are a problem at lockups across the nation, but an NBC News review of data from 44 states shows that nine of the 10 states with the highest cellphone seizure rates are in the South.
In South Carolina, prison officers have found and taken one phone for every three inmates, the highest rate in the country. In Oklahoma, it's one phone for every six prisoners, the nation's second-highest rate. Other states in the top 10 are Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida and Arkansas and Louisiana; the only one outside the region was California. NBC based its rankings on data provided by the state corrections departments.
Experts have linked contraband smuggling to low pay and high turnover for guards — and salaries for corrections officers in the states with the highest smuggling rates are indeed among the lowest in the nation.Think phones are the biggest problem? Consider drones.
"Prison staff in most Southern states are very poorly paid," said David Fathi, director of the ACLU's National Prison Project. "You get what you pay for."