COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai are teaming up to spread awareness of inmates smuggling cell phones into prisons. Governor Nikki Haley, said Wednesday, “Every year we have fought the fact that these cell phones continue to be a problem. It is a new weapon for inmates, all they have is time.”
Inmates with contraband cell phones have made drug deals, called in hits, and even scammed the general public. But Governor Haley is facing stiff resistance. Congress is hesitant to amend the Telecommunications Act and Telecomm companies are unwilling to jam their own signal. She says, “The argument that they say is well you can’t jam prisons because in Baltimore what’s that going to mean? Well, Bishopville is not Baltimore and Lee Correctional Facility, where I have my most dangerous inmates, are getting access to cell phones.”
Robert Johnson is a former corrections officer who was a victim of a hit called from prison. He was shot 6 times in his home because of his involvement confiscating cell phones.
“This plan was facilitated by a contraband cell phone. The details of the attack on my life was planned very carefully, even down to what type of gun to use. And since the cell phone could not be monitored by the prison, they had no worry about exposure,” says Johnson.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai says the FCC and Congress need to work together to stop this problem. “Let’s do something about it. It’s a bipartisan win I think for everybody in the commission and it’s a policy win for the American people.”
Governor Haley says the state has 900 openings for Corrections Officers that they cannot fill due to safety concerns.