Ever since a prisoner at Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina used a smuggled cellphone to arrange the assassination of then-guard Capt. Robert Johnson in 2010, the 15-year corrections veteran has been speaking out vociferously about the epidemic of contraband in prison.
“I instantly knew this was a hit,” Johnson told The Daily Caller in a recent interview, describing that frightful day seven years ago when an assassin broke into his home to try and kill him. “I came out of the bathroom and yelled to try and draw the guy away from the bedroom ’cause my wife was in there. I drew him to me.”
It worked, and during the tussle that ensued, Johnson wound up sustaining six bullet wounds to his stomach and chest. The assassin then fled the scene, at which point the correction officer’s wife dialed 911.
“The doctor said I was literally dead when I got off the helicopter,” Johnson recalled, citing his transfer to a nearby trauma center. “Doctors thought I was going to die … They gave me 63 units of blood. They said I bled out three times and died on the operating table twice.”
But ultimately he made it through and was in fact one of the lucky ones.
Last year, a gang leader in Georgia used a smuggled cellphone to order the murder of a 9-month-old infant in retaliation for the baby’s uncle killing a fellow gang member without permission, according to Newsweek. Sadly, that hit was successful.
At a Federal Communications Commission hearing four months back, Johnson made it clear that this problem could be solved if the FCC would simply set up a universal system to block smuggled cellphones from placing calls from inside prisons.
“I am angry with this process,” Johnson testified. “This technology is available, but its use is not permitted. I firmly believe that if South Carolina Department of Corrections had been allowed to block cell phone signals, my ordeal may not have happened.”
Stories abound about the use prisoners are making of smuggled cell phones, yet the authorities appear powerless to stop it.
According to CNN, the problem lies with government over-regulation. Every time a prison wants to test and implement a cell-blocking program, it must go through an extremely taxing process that frankly discourages corrections facilities from even pursuing such programs in the first place.
Yet as of August, four months after Johnson testified at the FCC hearing, the problem still persisted.
And just last month, South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford penned a letter to FCC chair Ajit Pai practically begging him to do something.
“You could make a real difference here,” he wrote. “In fact, there are very few things in domestic public policy that entail life and death itself. This issue does, and your actions here could literally save lives and make a profound difference.”
So what is Pai waiting for!?
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