Robert Johnson was a commander on a special team within one of the state of Florida’s most dangerous and violent maximum security prisons. As the leader of the SERT team, which stands for Special Emergency Response Team, Johnson was responsible for carrying out all of the tasks that were deemed to dangerous or too difficult for regular corrections officers.
On one occasion, Johnson and his team entered a cell and found a package containing a powder substance that had been hidden underneath a bunk. Lab tests confirmed that the contents of the package were nearly pure heroin. It was estimated that the package had a street value of $50,000, meaning the drugs were likely worth up to a quarter of a million dollars inside the prison.
Johnson had gained the reputation of being incorruptible. Over his 15 year career, he had never taken a bribe or bent the rules on behalf of any inmates. While he was respected, all of the inmates, including members of prison gangs, understood that there was no chance of paying Johnson off or extorting him. He was a model corrections officer who could not and would not be bought.
So, when word got back to the gang leadership to whom the heroin belonged, they harbored no illusions about any possibility of ever seeing the small fortune in drugs again. In prison, a $250,000 package is equivalent to losing the contents of an oil supertanker. The gang and its leadership was extremely upset at the loss. They decided to send a message.
As Johnson was preparing himself for work one morning, a gunman broke down his front door, stormed into his home and shot Johnson six times at nearly point-blank range. By some miracle, Johnson managed to survive. But after over 30 surgeries, his body was too badly broken for him to return to the demanding line of work that ultimately led to his ordeal.
It was later determined that the gang leader who had ordered the hit on Johnson from the very prison where the lifelong guard worked had used a contraband cell phone to contact the hit man.
Today, Johnson is back working in the prison industry, but in a different area. He has teamed up with Securus Technologies, one of the nation’s leading prison communications providers, to help sell the company’s Wireless Containment System. The system is able to intercept and block 100 percent of all unauthorized cell phone calls taking place within prison grounds. Johnson says that if the system would have been installed in the prison where he worked, he never would have endured such a close brush with death. Johnson says that, the sooner every prison in America adopts the system and puts an end to the threat that cell phones pose, the safer guards will be.