INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana prison leaders revealed they are receiving a new complaint every week or two, with citizens reporting they have been threatened or contacted by convicts inside their cells.
The surprising statistic emerged as the Call 6 Investigators headed inside a maximum security Indiana prison for an investigation into prisoners using cellphones for threats and harassment aimed at crime victims or other families.
"There's no telling what's going to happen next," said an Indianapolis man who was contacted repeatedly by a state prisoner who threatened to kill him and burn his family's house down.
The inmate had previously dated the man's daughter, but local rape crisis counselors also said this new tactic allows inmates to harass the people they victimized.
"It's disturbing and it worries me to death. Because he's a felon, he's dangerous," said the man, who spoke to the Call 6 Investigators on the condition that his family remained anonymous.
Indiana Department of Correction leaders said they confiscated 2,500 phones each year in 2011 and 2012 statewide. So far this year, more than 900 phones have been confiscated inside prisons throughout the state.
The Call 6 Investigators had three cameras rolling inside a maximum security prison, where a special team of dogs is now being used to sniff for illegal cell phones that have been smuggled inside prisons.
"It is kind of surprising sometimes," said K-9 team supervisor Lt. D. J. Mockler. "They're getting pretty inventive on where they hide this stuff."
Thursday on RTV6 at 11:00
In a report that airs Thursday night at 11 on RTV6, the Call 6 Investigators document where those prison dogs are commonly finding smuggled phones. The report also examines hundreds of phone calls from inside prison at all hours of the night aimed at one Indianapolis family.
"I don't know how he gets allotted all this time where no one in the jail notices that he's making all these phone calls and texting," said one woman who has received some of those calls.
An inmate has been transferred and disciplined for making those calls, but the family reveals in Thursday night's report that the calls continued after they alerted prison workers and the inmate was caught with a smuggled phone.
When asked about the calls continuing after the inmate was caught, one victim said, "There's no protection (from these inmates) at all. Might as well just let them all free. I'm angry about it."