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The Senate voted unanimously Thursday to make smuggling a cellphone into prison a misdemeanor crime with up to a $5,000 fine - a bill similar to one that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger veteoed as too weak.

The senator who carried last year's legislation, Los Angeles Democrat Alex Padilla, is also carrying this year's version, Senate Bill 26. It was sent to the Assembly on a 39-0 vote.

Prison authorities annually seize thousands of contraband cellphones, and law enforcement officials have worried aloud that they are being used by inmates to plot criminal activities outside the walls. Visitors and prison employees are generally viewed as major sources of the illicit devices, and authorities say the going price for a phone approaches $1,000.

Last year, Schwarzenegger vetoed Padilla's SB 525, saying, "while signing this measure might be better than nothing, I cannot sign a measure that does so little."



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