MONTGOMERY, Alabama --- Cell phones confiscated from Alabama state prisoners are going to a good cause, Department of Corrections Commissioner Kim Thomas told a legislative panel Tuesday.
Thomas said the department has donated more than 4,000 cell phones taken from inmates to a domestic violence program promoted by Dianne Bentley, wife of Gov. Robert Bentley.
The first lady got the state involved in the program last year, according to her website. The prison system donated more than 2,500 cell phones last year and more than 1,500 this year.
The cell phones go to HopeLine from Verizon, a recycling program. The cell phones are refurbished and sold to help fund grants for nonprofit organizations.
The Alabama Coalition for Domestic Violence and some of its member shelters have received grants, according to Dianne Bentley's website.
"In this instance we have turned a negative, which is the obnoxious and illegal presence of cell phones within our facilities, into something positive," Thomas said Tuesday during a meeting of the Joint Legislative Prison Committee.
Thomas said it's a felony for an inmate to have a cell phone and that inmates are being prosecuted.