Inmates at SC prison go live on Facebook despite phone blocking system, officials say

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The inmates, incarcerated at the Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, will be facing charges for using cellphones to broadcast on Facebook, according to The State.

The Department of Corrections has a security system in its prisons that is supposed to block cellphone service, but the inmates apparently were able to livestream anyway, WTLX reported.

"They go to prison and they are physically incarcerated, but virtually they are out there among us," Bryan Stirling, the director of the state’s prison system, told the television station.

It is not clear how many inmates were involved. 

“We are investigating why the managed access system that blocks cell service in the prison allowed the signal to broadcast,” prison officials tweeted Tuesday.

Investigators were tipped off about the video streaming and confiscated the phones, The State reported.

The prison’s managed access system was obtained as part of a three-year, $1.5 million contract with Tecore Networks. It is supposed to block phones that are not white-listed by prison officials from sending texts, make calls or connect to the internet. It was purchased after a riot at the Lee Correctional Institution in April 2018 left seven men dead, The State reported.

Stirling said he is seeking a system that will block all phone calls from South Carolina’s prisons.

"Jamming shuts everything off, no phone would work and that 's what we've been asking for," Stirling told WTLX. "The managed access system, when the industry chooses to change their signal, then the phones all of a sudden start working. That's an issue and that's something we've been concerned with and working with the industry on that. The best thing they can do is notify us in advance.

"I don't know if that's what happened today or not. I don't know if there's a malfunction with the system. We are investigating and working with the company."

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