COLUMBIA, S.C. – In another effort to ensure the security of South Carolina’s correctional facilities by reducing contraband, Governor Henry McMaster today signed Executive Order 2018-10, which establishes a partnership between the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) and the South Carolina State Guard and empowers the State Guard to assist SCDC with additional manpower in patrolling the exterior of correction facilities and fence towers.
The governor was joined for today’s announcement by SCDC Director Bryan Stirling, Maj. Gen. Van McCarty, Deputy Adjutant General for the South Carolina National Guard, Maj. Gen. Thomas S. Mullikin, Commander of the South Carolina State Guard, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, and Lee County Sheriff Daniel Simon.
“We’ve had a problem for years with cell phones, and once that phone gets inside, a prisoner can conduct a criminal enterprise on the outside,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “Director Stirling has been innovative and is the leader in the United States for getting the rule changed to allow Corrections to block cell phones signals. So, I have issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in the South Carolina prisons due to this contraband and order the South Carolina State Guard under the command of Major General Tom Mullikin to assist the Department of Corrections in patrolling the exterior of the facilities and guard towers to prevent such contraband from being thrown over or being dropped by drones over the fences.”
“I want to thank Governor McMaster and I want to thank the State Guard for stepping up and accepting this mission,” said S.C. Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling. “This literally will help ensure the safety of our institutions. This will allow us to take our perimeter security personnel and move them inside, making it safer for the corrections officers and the inmates.”
“The State Guard has been protecting South Carolina since 1670, and we’re delighted and honored to have this opportunity to help stand up and protect not only the guards, but the surrounding communities of the prisons we will be supporting as a force multiplier,” said Maj. Gen. Tom Mullikin. “Not only will this be an effective solution, but it will also be a cost-effective solution, because the services offered by our professionals are offered at no cost to the state.”
With the goal of eventually placing guardsmen at facilities around the state, this initiative will begin as a pilot program and will utilize only those members of the State Guard that are certified Class 1 Law Enforcement Officers.
The partnership is the latest effort by Governor McMaster and Director Stirling to mitigate contraband in prisons. Recently testifying before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to advocate for corrections agencies to be given the authority to block cell phone signals in prisons, Director Stirling has led the national effort to combat the growing crisis of contraband cell phones.
Similar partnerships with the Richland County and Lee County Sheriff's offices have resulted in over 100 arrests, over the last year, of individuals attempting to throw contraband over the prison fences or using drones to do the same.