A mother paid South Carolina prison gangs thousands to keep her son alive

The phone call from prison came on a sweltering summer morning. The woman immediately sensed an unfamiliar tremor in her son’s voice.

Her son had been behind bars for six years but he had never sounded so panicked.

He needed money. For a guy. And he needed it fast.

The mother didn’t know it at the time but she would soon be caught in a seemingly never-ending cycle of payments and pleadings in a desperate attempt to keep her son from harm.

He had fallen victim to gangs who controlled Evans Correctional Institution, a medium-security prison in rural Bennettsville near the North Carolina border. They used threats, intimidation and violence to prey on weaker inmates and extend their tentacles beyond the razor wire to squeeze families for money through extortion.

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