Columbia, SC (WLTX) – The South Carolina Department of Corrections has 674 vacancies.

Over the last week, an inmate was stabbed and killed at Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville and there was another stabbing at Turbeville Correctional where six inmates were injured.

“Our goal is to make sure the prisons are safe and but prisons are places where violent people are,” SC Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling explained. “This what our officers have to deal with.”

Stirling said although employment is low and the incidents seem to be more frequent, the two are not necessarily correlated.

“Presence is very important, but you know these cases are under review,” the director said.

He said proper protocol may not have been followed.

Either way, the need for officers is still great but not as bad as it was.

In January 2017, there were 808 vacancies, in November 2017, there are 674 vacancies.

Stirling said the improved salaries to start at $31,000, give bonuses, overtime and are upping advertisements have all helped.

“Fighting for them because they do a very difficult job under very difficult circumstances,” Stirling explained. “We need more of them so we can do more programming so we can make these folks successful that are coming back into society.”

Stirling also added that inmates having cell phones continues to be a big problem.

He is still pushing for legislation that would block cell phone signals inside prisons.

He is asking for more money from lawmakers to give the correctional officers a pay increase. He said it's not easy as it sounds, a raise for the officers cost upwards of $18 million.