Prison officials spend a lot of time, money, and other resources controlling what comes out of prisons – their goal, after all, is to keep the inmates inside. But, South Carolina has found that it’s even more difficult to keep control of what goes into prisons.
SC Gov. Henry McMaster recently issued an executive order meant to stanch the flow of contraband into the state’s prisons, which law enforcement officials say has become a crisis that threatens the “safety and security” of the state’s institutions and communities.
Are they exaggerating? A growing number of recent news stories make it clear that SC prisons, indeed, have a problem with contraband. And that flow of illegal goods threatens the safety of not only inmates and prison staff, but everyone who lives or travels in the state.
Do South Carolina Prisons Have a Contraband Problem?
Let’s review some headlines:
- Officials at Lee Corrections Institution near Bishopville say a gang fight over contraband led to the violent uprising that left seven inmates dead and injured 22 people in April.
- Also in April, federal prosecutors announced indictments against 14 former SC prison employees accused of bringing cellphones, drugs, and other contraband into the state’s prisons.
- In March, prison authorities arrested a man after they say he tried to throw drugs over the fences around Perry Corrections Institution in Greenville. Authorities say the man had more than 40 grams of marijuana, which he tried to stuff inside footballs and toss onto the prison grounds.
- Just last week, officials at Evans Correctional Institution in Bennettsville arrested a woman who they say put methamphetamine and synthetic marijuana in her vagina in an attempt to smuggle the drugs into the prison during a visit with an inmate.
- A corrections officer was arrested after authorities say she smuggled contraband including food, a lighter watch, and a male enhancement supplement into the maximum security Broad River Correctional Institution in Richland County.
- Prison officials say a cell phone was instrumental in the escape of a convicted kidnapper from Lieber Correctional Institution in Dorchester County. Authorities say the inmate used a cell phone that had been smuggled into the prison to coordinate the delivery of the tools he used to escape. The tools may have been delivered by a drone.
How Are SC Officials Addressing the Issue?
The SC Department of Corrections (DOC) has struggled in recent years to hire and retain corrections officers. The governor’s executive order will allow prison officials to:
- Expedite their efforts to fill its 600 staff vacancies by waiving state hiring regulations;
- Retain officers by increasing salaries and allowing overtime pay; and
- More quickly implement security measures like stretching nets over fences to prevent people from tossing contraband onto prison grounds.
State law enforcement and prison officials say the executive order is a crucial piece of finding a solution. We’ll see.
Criminal Defense Lawyer in Myrtle Beach, SC
Daniel A. Selwa is a criminal defense attorney in Myrtle Beach, SC. If you are facing criminal charges in the Horry County area, call now at (843) 492-5449 or contact us through our website for a free consultation about your case.