South Carolina’s prisons director Bryan Sterling recently told lawmakers that new fencing and netting installed at some state prisons is preventing outsiders from throwing contraband over the perimeter fence.
“It’s 50 feet high. Our fences are 12 feet high with the razor wire so another 38 feet,” he told members of the Joint Bond Review Committee last week.
The Department of Corrections director said netting has been installed at 3 of the state’s 11 medium and high-security prisons, reducing the chances that drugs and phones can be thrown over prison fencing.
Sterling said the throwovers were usually packages with various types of contraband. ‘When I talk about a throw over, I don’t talk about just a small package.,” he said “I talk about a backpack full of stuff that you would run up to the fence line and throw then the inmate would grab it and be able to distribute it.”
He said the netting was also an effort to stop smugglers from using t-shirt “cannons” which could launch the packages over razor fences.
Stirling told the lawmakers throwovers also contained contraband cell phones, which is a major problem in state prisons. He said that more than 4,000 contraband cell phones or parts, such as chargers and SIM cards, were seized in state prisons over the last 12 months.
State prison officials said they will test equipment next month that can jam cellphone signals to prevent inmates from using contraband phones.
The equipment will be tested at Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville.