S.C. authorities: Inmate used cellphone to order violent crimes


COLUMBIA (AP) - A South Carolina inmate imprisoned on armed robbery and burglary charges used a cellphone to order violent crimes on multiple people from inside prison and now faces new charges, authorities said Tuesday.

Harvester Jackson, incarcerated at Kirkland Correctional Institution in Columbia, has been charged with accessory to attempted murder, accessory to discharging a firearm into a dwelling and accessory to arson, The State newspaper reported.

Jackson targeted multiple people, including a woman he once dated, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said. The investigation started after the woman told law enforcement someone shot into her home in April after Jackson threatened to shoot up her home if she didn't provide him information on another person.

Jackson was tied to two other shootings from 2018 and 2019, and several cellphone numbers have been connected to him, investigators said. He also used Facebook Messenger, they said.

Lott and South Carolina Corrections Director Bryan Stirling have called on Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to allow the state to jam cellphone frequencies in prisons. Currently, federal law bars the state from doing so.

In 2017, Stirling testified on cellphone jamming alongside Robert Johnson at a Federal Communications Commission hearing in Washington. Johnson, a veteran of 15 years as a corrections officer who oversaw efforts to keep cellphones and other contraband out of Lee Correctional Institution near Bishopville, was nearly killed in 2010 in a hit orchestrated by an inmate using an illegal phone.

In April 2018, seven inmates died during a night of rioting at Lee Correctional Institution, one of the state's maximum-security prisons. Officials said some of the dispute was over contraband, including illegal cellphones, which inmates likely used for communications during the insurrection.

"These people are in prison because they committed a crime," Lott said. "But they get a cellphone and get on Facebook and call people, and you get a house shot up and get a car burned."

Jackson was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for armed robbery and second-degree burglary. His projected release date is March 2021, but the sheriff said that is now unlikely given the new charges.