HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — The state prison agency says it’s taking steps to staunch a spike in cell phone smuggling at the medium-security Maryland Correctional Institution near Hagerstown.

Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services spokesman Mark Vernarelli told The Herald-Mail Tuesday that 16 contraband cell phones were found at the prison in the last few weeks.

He says they are the first contraband cell phones confiscated in any of the three prisons near Hagerstown this calendar year.

The newspaper reports that the prison adopted tighter security measures Tuesday. The measures include having all staff clear a metal detector and undergo frisk searches on some occasions.

Contraband cell phones have been involved in a number of scandals, including the indictment of 44 people, including 27 correctional officers, last year at the state-run Baltimore City Detention Center.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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