If you were to ask ten prison guards what the most important threat facing today’s penal institutions is, at least 5 of them would probably have some answer involving contraband cell phones. While it may be, at first, difficult for those not familiar with the prison system to grasp just how serious the threat posed by contraband cell phones is, prison guards understand that the combination of dangerous prison gangs and easy access to effective communication with the outside world is a recipe for disaster.
A portrait in grit
Robert Johnson has spent the majority of his adult life as a prison guard. After graduating from high school, he went to work for the Florida Department of Corrections. He was assigned to one of the toughest maximum security facilities in the state, a place where the worst of the worst offenders are sent to serve out long terms of incarceration. The job was inherently dangerous, but Johnson thrived.
Over the course of the next decade, Johnson steadily moved up the ranks. He proved to be a highly capable and incorruptible corrections officer. He had an easy-going style yet was firm and consistent in his dealing with the inmates. He never lost his temper and was always respectful, even in the toughest situations. These were exactly the traits that any prison administrator looks for in a guard, and they helped Johnson to continue being promoted through the ranks.
By his early 30s, Johnson had become a team leader on a Florida Department of Corrections SERT team, one of the most prestigious jobs in the FDC. It was as a leader on one such team that Johnson was conducting a routine cell search. The search uncovered a package with a fine powder substance. Tests revealed that the substance was nearly pure heroin, estimated to have a street value of more than $50,000.
This quantify of high-grade heroin had a prison value of as much as a quarter-million dollars. The gang to whom the heroin was supposed to be delivered quickly identified Johnson as the guard behind the seizure. Whether he knew it or not, Johnson had just been green lighted, a contract had been put on on him.
One morning, as he got ready for work, Johnson’s front door was kicked in and he was rushed by a gunman. Firing at nearly point-blank range, the gunman unloaded six shots into Johnson’s torso. The veteran guard barely survived.
It turned out that Johnson’s assailant was contacted via a contraband cell phone. Had the Securus Technologies Wireless Containment System been installed in the prisons where he worked, Johnson would likely have never been attacked.
Today, Johnson is a spokesman for Securus, selling prisons across the country on the benefits of detecting contraband cell phones.