Texas Correctional Officers can make as little as $22,581 per year, so you can see why the opportunity to smuggle in a fancy iPhone for five grand would be tempting. One California prison guard made over $150,000 smuggling cell phones in a single year. And while there are some distinctly oddball methods -- like sewing phones into the stomach of a dead cat and tossing it over the fence -- the consequences of phone-armed prisoners are less Hogan's Heroes and more The Wire: "... cell phones are pretty serious because you can call a hit. The cartels ... they are seriously involved with the different gangs."
That, and three life sentences leaves plenty opportunity to up your high score on Fruit Ninja.
Cell phones are actually one of the deadliest things in any prison. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation traced a rise in inmate deaths across the entire state to the use of cell phones by gang members in prison. Cell phones allow gang leaders to stay in contact with their people on the outside, meaning they can credibly threaten the families of officers and other inmates. In 2008, a death row inmate used his cellphone to call and threaten a Texas senator. Guards try to confiscate phones whenever possible -- which, as our source noted, can be dangerous: "I've seen officers get assaulted over cell phones."