A new report says 66 inmates with South Carolina’s prisons agency have been disciplined this year for being on social media sites. Despite bans on cell phones inside prisons and a lack of access to computers, corrections officials say that does not stop inmates from accessing the internet.
According the Greenville News, the state Department of Corrections said the numbers will most likely pass last year’s 131 inmates disciplined, but are on pace to be down from the peak of 218 in 2014.
The agency has long struggled against the relative ease of accessibility inside state facilities, with a spokeswoman telling the paper there are concerns some inmates use their accounts to coordinate criminal activity and put out orders on social media. The primary culprits are smart phones that are being smuggled into prisons.
Issues with cell phones has been a sore point between South Carolina and the federal government. The Corrections Department has been seeking FCC permission to jam its prison cell signals since 2010. However, the federal agency cites a 1934 law which stated it can only give such powers to federal agencies, not state ones. Three years ago, the agency’s commissioners pledged to move forward on the issue after 30 states sought approval. But that effort never materialized.
South Carolina’s Department of Corrections has fought for the ability to block cell signals after one of its officers Captain Robert Johnson was shot six times in a 2010 hit that the State Law Enforcement Division says was ordered by a Lee Correctional inmate using a contraband phone.
It’s not just a problem for South Carolina. Correction facilities all over the nation are facing the same problem.