Jamming cellphone signals is against federal law but a former Lee Correctional Institute employee says those signals almost got him killed.
The June 27 dismissal of a lawsuit by corrections captain Robert Johnson may be viewed as a setback to South Carolina and 29 other states seeking permission from the FCC to jam cellular phone signals at state prisons.
But Robert and Mary Johnson will appeal the decision because they say an inmate seeking revenge ordered a hit on Johnson via a contraband cellphone. Johnson was shot six times at his Sumter home in 2010.
State Department of Corrections spokesman Clark Newsom says contraband cell phones continue to be a problem in prisons across the country.
The Johnson’s sued 20 cellphone companies and cellular tower owners in connection with the attack, alleging that the companies had the ability to block inmate calls to the prison.
Newsom says state prisons are beginning to utilize other forms of equipment to curtail cellphone calls by inmates.
“Some of the equipment for security reasons I can’t talk too much about, but there are some new things on the market now which do a better job of the signal from a cellphone, and we’ve done some extensive testing and are actually now buying some of that equipment.”
Newsom says people from the outside continue to employ a number of schemes to get cellphones to prisoners including tossing them over the prison walls at designated times or placing them in the wheel wells of delivery trucks that enter the prisons.
Newsom says Department of Correction personnel confiscate more than 3,000 mobile phones a year from state prisons.
“We’re working real closely with local law enforcement who are helping us screen the areas outside of our prisons. We’re also trading out information when we hear there is a possibility of someone is trying to get a package to an individual.”