South Carolina News

Gov. McMaster declares emergency over prison cell phones

SOUTH CAROLINA (WSPA) - SC Gov. Henry McMaster signed an executive order Tuesday declaring a state of emergency over the use of cell phones by prison inmates.

The order allows volunteers with the South Carolina State Guard to assist the Department of Corrections by patrolling the exterior of correction facilities.

McMaster hopes the additional manpower will help prevent phones and other contraband from being thrown over fences or carried into prisons by drones.

According to a news release from the Governor’s Office, similar partnerships in Richaland and Lee counties have resulted in over 100 arrests.

“We’ve had a problem for years with cell phones, and once that phone gets inside, a prisoner can conduct a criminal enterprise on the outside,” McMaster said.

The new initiative will begin as a pilot program and will only utilize members of the State Guard who are certified as Class 1 Law Enforcement Officers.

Bryan Stirling, the director of South Carolina’s Department of Corrections, has been urging the federal government to allow state prisons to block cell phone signals.

Stirling and McMaster recently testified about the problem before the Federal Communications Commission.

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