With a vote of 50 in favor, Legislators on Thursday approved in first reading a bill to block cellular signals in prisons. The bill is a reform to the Ley General de Telecomunicaciones that required mobile operators and telecom services provides to effect the block.

In the photo, La Reforma maximum security prison in Alajuela.

Simply, the text required the telecoms to prevent telecommunications services inside prisons, juvenile penal centers, detention centers, and any other institutional care center of the national penitentiary system.

Despite cell phones being regarded as contraband within prison walls, they are smuggled in and used by prisons to communicate with the outside, including committing crimes such as extortion. For landlines, outgoing calls from telephones within the prison accessible to inmates announce the call is coming from a prison, the same cannot be applied to mobile phones.

The bill also requires the telecoms to guarantee there is no impact on the service to users in areas surrounding the prisons and detention centers.