Haley, 8 other GOP governors, urge FCC to rethink prison phone jamming

Some of the thousands of contraband cell phones found in SC prisons each year (FILE)

Some of the thousands of contraband cell phones found in SC prisons each year (FILE)

Gov. Nikki Haley was among a group of governors across the county who signed a formal letter asking the FCC to reevaluate how it treats illegal cell phones in prisons.

Haley’s was the first signature of the letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler putting in writing similar complaints South Carolina prisons officials have had for nearly a decade: that the federal agency is not doing all it can to block contraband phone signals. South Carolina and other states have been requesting permission to jam the insides of corrections facilities since at least 2009.

“Contraband cellphones in the hands of prisoners dramatically increase these threats to witnesses, the public, the officers, their families, and even other prisoners,” the letter states.

But the FCC has argued a 1934 law limits only the federal government to have that jamming power. Telecommunications companies say they’re worried the same technology could interfere with emergency signals and neighbors’ cell phones.

Haley and her appointed Department of Corrections director Bryan Stirling testified to a sympathetic FCC commissioner last month about their concerns that contraband phones allow inmates to organize activities outside the prison walls. Also among those who testified was former corrections Captain Robert Johnson, who was shot six times at his home in a 2010 hit that the State Law Enforcement Division says was ordered by a Lee Correctional inmate using a contraband phone.

The governors of Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah — all Republicans — also signed onto the letter.

Errors found in South Carolina sex offender registry

A new report warns South Carolina may be posting false information to the state’s sex offender tracking registry, potentially putting assault victims at risk.

The Greenville News found the inaccuracies during an evaluation of the new system used for the state’s registry.

The State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) switched from the privately-operated OffenderWatch to the US Justice Department’s free Sex Offender Registry Tool (SORT) earlier this year. However, most of South Carolina’s 46 counties are using the Offenderwatch system. That has led to a lack of communication between jurisdictions and outdated information on the state sever, the report says.

When the state started using the new software, it accidentally published juvenile sex offender’s information online for almost two weeks. The paper found other intrastate and interstate discrepancies in sex offender data is still present months after switching over to the new software.

SLED officials defended the new system, saying every state has difficulty manning its roster of sex offenders. Agency chief Mark Keel blamed the gaps on offenders who failed to register with law enforcement upon moving as they are required to do.

SCRN Evening Newscast (AUDIO)

Included in this evening’s newscast:

— A man accused of killing a North Charleston bartender last month cursed at the victim’s mother when she scolded him in court Monday.

— Chesterfield County authorities have now identified the man killed after a 15-hour standoff at his home this weekend.

— A colony of invasive Africanized honey bees has now been destroyed in Charleston County.

— Most public comments on a proposed cruise ship terminal in downtown Charleston were negative on the current idea.

Man killed in 15-hour Chesterfield County standoff identified

Chesterfield County authorities have now identified a man who died from his injuries following a 15-hour armed standoff with law enforcement this weekend.

63-year-old Norman Campbell died at a nearby hospital from gunshot injuries, according to the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies said they responded to the home north of Cheraw about shots fired around 9 p.m. Friday night. Charlotte-based WSOC-TV reports Campbell barricaded himself inside the home and fired several times. The deputies called for backup and attempted to negotiate with Campbell. A State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) SWAT team also arrived on the scene that night.

Around noon Saturday, deputies said Campbell stepped outside his home with a gun and “challenged law enforcement with a firearm,” according to the sheriff’s office. He was shot shortly afterwards. Early reports do not say how many times or where he was hit.

An initial review did not find any Chesterfield County criminal history for Campbell.

SLED normally handles investigations of officer-involved shootings in South Carolina, but has requested Florence County Sheriff’s Office to take over since some of SLED’s own officers were involved. Saturday’s shots fired were the 18th officer-involved shootings statewide this year.

Gov.’s Office launches website aimed at domestic violence survivors

South Carolina’s state government has launched a new website aimed at providing information and resources to domestic violence survivors, loved ones, and offenders as well as to professional groups in the workplace.

“When you go to this website, not only does it ask you what town and zip code you live in, it also gives you all of the resources available to you within your community,” Governor Nikki Haley said. “But it goes a step further – it tells someone who is being abused what they can do to get help, it tells someone who thinks they know someone who’s being abused how to go about approaching the situation, and it tells someone who is an offender what they can do to get the help they need.”

The website features a 24-hour crisis hotline, a statewide directory of resources searchable by location, safety checklists and tips for victims and loved ones, and an exit button for victim safety. Citizens are also encouraged by the website to learn the phrase, “Share. Care. Be There,” as a three-step process for how loved ones should approach a friend or family member suspected to be a victim of domestic violence.

SafePlaceSC.sc.gov is a result of the work done by the S.C. Domestic Violence Task Force to provide South Carolinians with a single resource for domestic violence information.

“When we talk about ‘Share. Care. Be There,’ that really comes down to a couple of things,” Governor Haley said. “If you know of someone or suspect that someone is being abused, share your concerns with them. Care, but don’t judge. We can’t judge someone who is being abused because they already feel badly about themselves and our job is to lift them up, and get them help. And finally, it’s just to be there because this is a patient situation.”

The governor also laid out goals for county-level officials to try to meet by the end of the year in order to receive Safe Place County Certifications. Those goals include organizing a committee to review domestic violence deaths and adopting human resources policies for dealing with domestic violence situations.

SCRN Evening Newscast (AUDIO)

Included in this evening’s newscast:

— South Carolina’s unemployment rate has edged up slightly for the second consecutive month.

— A new law will take effect that blocks an out-of-state company from using online eye exams to offer prescriptions for contacts and glasses.

— A body recovered from the ocean this morning near Myrtle Beach State Park is a Rock Hill man who disappeared in the surf earlier this week.

— An English teacher at a Greenville area high school has been accused of having sex with a student.

Senate panel takes no action to expand Stand Your Ground defense

A state Senate panel held off on a vote Thursday to expand South Carolina’s “Stand Your Ground” legal defense.

According to the Associated Press, a Senate judiciary panel put off any action on a measure that would have required prosecutors to prove an individual claiming self-defense on their property under the law was not actually in danger. The move came after more than an hour of public testimony Thursday from some who say the bill would lead to a shoot first, ask questions later attitude.

The proposal would have shifted the burden from defense attorneys to prosecutors and would give expanded appeal rights should the trial judge rule against the defense. Third Circuit Solicitor Chip Finney argued the change could clog the court system and delay justice through  years of appeals. The bill’s sponsor State Rep. Greg Delleney, R-Chester, said it should be the government’s burden to prove an individual was not defending their own home or property.

The state Supreme Court had asked lawmakers to help clarify the state’s law Wednesday in a ruling that a Charleston County woman could claim “Stand Your Ground” in her abusive boyfriend’s fatal stabbing because she was cohabiting the apartment with him at the time.

Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, R-Edgefield, said that lawmakers will need to carefully consider any changes to the legislation.

SCRN Evening Newscast (AUDIO)

Included in this evening’s newscast:

— State police are investigating after a Forest Acres police officer shot a driver who he believes tried to hit him.

— Greenville County authorities say a man has died from injuries he suffered after being shot by deputies two weeks ago.

— Five Greer middle school students have been charged over a sexual assault that was apparently filmed.

— Horry County officials told members of Congress about a “ransomware” cyber attack against their school district this year.

Suspect dies two weeks after shot by deputy during Taylors confrontation

Greenville County authorities say a man has died from injuries he suffered after being shot by deputies two weeks ago during an armed confrontation outside a Taylors shopping center.

The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the shooting of 52-year-old Reginald Dogan on May 2. A responding deputy said Dogan was “waving” a gun when confronted. The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office said the deputy requested backup. A department spokesman said Dogan began walking towards the backup deputy after the officer arrived on-scene. Sheriff Steve Loftis said that deputy repeatedly told Dogan to get on the ground, but the suspect did not comply and instead continued walking and pointed the gun at the second officer. The deputy then fired, hitting Dogan in the neck.

There was no dashcam or body camera footage of the incident, according to a SLED spokesman. Thom Berry said the agency will not have any further comment while it investigates the shooting.

The officers returned to duty after an internal investigation. Sheriff Steve Loftis said after reviewing the report he is confident both deputies followed procedure and only fired in self-defense.

Dogan’s daughter released a message on Facebook through the organization Fighting Injustice Together. “Due to the substantial injuries to my father’s neck, he was not able to tell us what happen to him the day he was shot,” Marva Dogan said in the statement. “But when I was finally able to sit by his bedside, and to look in his eyes; I promised him that I would find the truth; therefore, we have asked Fighting Injustice Together to help us conduct an independent investigation, and they have agreed”.