Two former corrections officers at a state prison in Columbia are now facing accusations that they allowed inmates to retrieve contraband goods which had been smuggled into the facility.
28-year-old Jamar Brown and 30-year-old Taylor Johnson were charged with misconduct in office, according to The Associated Press. Both had been officers at the Broad River Correctional Institution who resigned earlier this summer. Warrants state both men allowed inmates to retrieve cellphones, tools and tobacco that had been smuggled into Broad River in mid-June.
A Department of Corrections spokesman said Johnson resigned in June and Brown followed two months later. The warrants state both officers admitted to their role in the incident.
SCDC officials have struggled to control inmate phone use for years. They have been seeking FCC permission to jam 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. Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said the phones are often tossed over prison fences. He argues the phones present a danger because some inmates will use them to threaten victims or coordinate with fellow gang members outside the walls.
Meanwhile, inmates have occasionally been helped by corrupt guards who sell the phones or look the other way. A former federal officer was sentenced to more than a year in prison last year after she pleaded guilty to taking bribes in exchange for smuggling phones inside the Federal Correctional Institute in Bennettsville.