Reuben J. Long Detention officers discuss contraband issues and how visitation rules have changed

After a prison riot at the Lee Correctional Institution that left seven dead and 17 injured, officials across the state of South Carolina are discussing ways to make jails and prisons safer.

Officials say the root of the fight was stemmed from a cell phone and other counties have spoken out about ways they combat contraband issues. 

Joey Johnson, Deputy director at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center in Conway says a few years ago visitors were allowed to visit inmates face to face and even bring shoes and clothes. 

"They would try to pass contraband through the ceilings to the inmates so we had an issue with that." Johnson said. "They would try to sneak tobacco products in the shoes and pockets."

Now the detention utilizes electronic video visitation through webcams. where inmates remain in the housing unit while visitors go into a designated room. Officer, Taimar Thomas says some visitors will try to sneak cell phones into the web cam cubicles to show inmates messages and pictures. 

"We will tell them you can't have cell phones, no video equipment, they will try to sneak it in and we do our best to stop it, we make sure to tell them again because they can get suspended for 30 days if they are caught with it again." Thomas said.

Deputy Director Johnson says some visitors have tried to find a new way of getting the drugs into the facility. 

"On the mailing end, they will try to hide different kinds of drugs under the stamps and we are working to combat that." 

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