Gavin Jackson sat down with Department of Corrections director, Brian Stirling to examine current issues the prison system is facing.
- 36 inmates on death row in South Carolina can't be executed since lethal injection drugs aren't available
- New drone technology, full body scanners, and 50-foot netting have been installed at facilities to heighten security
- There is a new bill that is in the works that could be introduced this week that would, “allow us to go and capture the phone numbers … and we will be able to take that, go to court, and the court will order the cellphone companies to shut that down.”
Almost a year ago the one of the deadliest prison riots happened at Lee Correctional Institution when seven people were killed in a riot. Stirling said the department has been underfunded making it difficult to recruit and maintain employees, which in return had made it easier for criminal activity to take place. The department is continuing to make strides to fix ongoing problems. Stirling discusses previous issues the department has faced, such as illegal cellphone usage, security, hiring and retaining workers, death row, and life after prison.
Illegal usage of cellphones in prisons remains a problem. “This is not just a South Carolina problem this is a national problem,” Stirling says. The ultimate solution is blocking, which shuts everything down and puts a blanket over the institution which is what Stirling would prefer, but the Constitution will not allow this, therefore the agency is looking into managing access systems. Manage access systems which allows 911 calls work and phones outside work but anything inside that system that’s contraband will not work.
Stirling states that although he wants to block cellphone use he believes that communication with family members is important. “I want the folks who are incarcerated to be able to communicate with family members but I don’t want them to continue their criminal ways from behind bars I think it is vitally important they keep communication with their family but it needs to be proper communication.”
To increase security in the prisons Stirling says that they have put up 50-foot netting surrounding the prisons so people can not throw contrabands into the prisons, they have implemented new drone detection technology, and full body scanners at the front and back gates.
Stirling mentions the turnover rate is too high and the agnecy needs to retain their employees better. This would include asking for raises, bonuses and paying for overtime. “Right now we are no different than industry, we are having a hard time hiring people and we are not where we need to be.” said Stirling.
Keep an eye out for more changes to the corrections department in the future. Here is a look at what might be new to the system. Incorporating educational tablets in prisons. These tablets would not have anything other access than just to educational programs, books, the bible, GED classes, and radio to keep inmates busy. Since drug manufacturers refuse to sell leathal injection drugs to South Carolina and other states, lawmakers are moving to make the electric chair the default method of execution in the state. The Senate bill is currently in the House.