News Releases

Avenal State Prison Donates 515 Cell Phones to Soldiers

Donation made in honor of ten-year September 11th anniversary

AVENAL, CA. — In recognition of the ten-year anniversary of September 11th, Avenal State Prison (ASP) donated 515 cell phones to the Cell Phones for Soldiers program.

“The job of our troops is never-ending.” ASP Warden James Hartley said. “They remain in foreign lands as peacekeepers, guarding those who wish to realize the liberties of freedom. Our servicemen continue to be removed from their family units and limited in their abilities to maintain their family ties. As such, Avenal State Prison wants to support the troops by giving them the opportunity to hear that precious and familiar voice when they call home.”

The phones collected came from staff donations as well as those recovered during contraband searches. Approximately 450 of the donated cell phones were recovered either in drops outside the prison that were intended for inmates, or in the inmate housing units where no suspects could be tied to the cell phones.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has seen a rise in the use of contraband cell phones. Cell phone use by inmates poses a security risk as it circumvents the monitoring process and compromises security in prisons. So far this year, 9,935 contraband cell phones have been discovered in CDCR’s prisons and Conservation Camps.

Cell Phones for Soldiers collects cell phones, recycles them and uses the profits to purchase pre-paid calling cards for the soldiers in far away areas so that they may call home to their parents, children or spouses. The phones are sent to ReCellular, which pays Cell Phones for Soldiers for each donated phone – enough to provide an hour of talk time to soldiers abroad.

Cell Phones for Soldiers was founded in 2004 by teenagers Robbie and Brittany Bergquist from Norwell, Mass., with $21 of their own money. Since then, the registered 501c3 non-profit organization has, to date, collected 7.5 million cell phones, which they have turned into 90 million prepaid calling card minutes distributed to soldiers serving overseas.

ASP opened in January 1987, the facility covers 640 acres and is designated as a low-medium security institution to provide housing for approximately 5,700 general population inmates. The prison employs 1,629 people and provides academic classes, vocational instruction, a substance abuse program and work programs to include a Prison Industries Authority plant.

# # # #



(559) 386-0674 EXT. 5028