Governor Henry McMaster and South Carolina Department of Corrections director Bryan Stirling reiterated their call for cell phone jamming to be allowed in prisons after a deadly riot that left seven inmates dead.
Authorities said in an incident beginning around 7:15 p.m. on Sunday, inmates housed in multiple dorms at Lee Correctional were involved in a disturbance. The riot resulted in the deaths of seven inmates and the injury of 17 others at the maximum-security prison.
In a press conference on Monday, Stirling said the altercation appeared to stem from gang-related conflict over territory, contraband and cell phones. Stirling said investigators believe cell phones were used by prisoners to communicate about the riot between dorms.
An advocate for cell phone jammers being installed in South Carolina prisons, Stirling has previously said that prisoner access to cell phones is no different than access to weapons. McMaster has also supported cell phone jamming in prisons.
However, the Federal Communications Commission has instated policy that prohibits states from using technology to jam cell phone signals for inmates behind bars.
In Monday's press conference, McMaster said Stirling has led the battle for the whole country regarding prison signal jamming.
"I know prisons all around this country that would be safer... if this jamming were allowed," the governor said.
Stirling says access to cell phones allows inmates to continue criminal activities behind bars all across the country. He mentioned Charles Manson being busted for having a cell phone in prison.
"It's not a South Carolina problem, it is a national problem," Stirling said. "Until the industry starts taking this seriously, this is going to continue to happen."
Sen. Karl Allen spoke on Monday about the incident and said rather than cell phones, the issues seem to stem from low morale among prison employees and inmates.
“There is a responsibility to have a safe environment a rehabilitative environment," Allen said. "One that is not in violation of the Eight Amendment of cruel and unusual punishment so it has a harmony for all that are involved."
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