COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Behind the scenes at South Carolina prisons, the staff is showcasing new tech gadgets they hope will improve security.
This, after the deadliest riot in decades last month at Lee Correctional and a multitude of arrests of officers and visitors for smuggling contraband. From cameras in flight to surveillance staff, the Department of Corrections (SCDC) hopes added eyes can curb contraband smuggling of items like cell phones, weapons, and drugs.
There be unannounced flights over prison grounds by a fleet of drones during the day and night, where officers monitor prisons for signs of unwanted activity. One of the fleets is a drone confiscated by officers for previously being used in a smuggling attempt.
Indoors, there are eyes glued to bright screens inside a dark room. Cameras in facilities across the state watch inmates and visitors and staff.
Unveiling these tech gadgets comes more than one month since what's known as the deadliest prison riot in decades when riots at Lee Correctional left seven inmates dead. Not all cameras were working, then because of inmates breaking them.
"Sometimes the cameras work and then sometimes…you know they can destroy them so they don't work," SCDC Director Bryan Stirling admitted.
That violence at Lee was blamed on contraband. "I mean, from a potato gun and running up and throwing a knapsack to smuggling it into the front gates to mailing it in, these folks who are incarcerated have all day to think of ways to introduce contraband," Stirling said.
Meanwhile, the FCC has allowed a test of jammed cell phone signals from prisons, to keep inmates from using that contraband behind bars. That will happen next month near Washington D.C.