SCDC: Updated cell locks, more staff needed in state prisons

SCDC: Updated cell locks, more staff needed for state prisons

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The South Carolina Department of Corrections said they need to update their cell locks and add more staff to improve safety at their prisons.

SCDC Director Bryan Stirling shared an update with the Senate Corrections and Penology Committee Wednesday afternoon. He said they need about $40 million to make security improvement to their facilities.

“Staffing is our number issue right now,” Stirling said.

He said they are just under 700 vacancies for positions at the Department of Corrections. Stirling said it’s difficult to retain staff. According to the SCDC’s website, the starting salary for a correctional officer is $34,311.

Stirling said he would like to pay his employees more and continue to make the strides they are making in the prison system. He said South Carolina ranks fourth in the country in recidivism rates.

A big part of the $40 million Stirling would like to see will go towards updating locks for cells. Stirling said they currently use key locks. He said he wants to modernize the system and make it safer for officers and inmates.

“Our officers spend about 80 percent of their time walking turning a key and opening the door, turning a key and opening the door,” Stirling said. “It’s not like on TV where they say cell number 18 and they step out.”

Stirling said he wants to have electronic locks and control rooms put in place so they can control doors from in there.

Senate bills regarding cell phones in prisons and reducing prison sentences for inmates who are in good standing are both still in committee.

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