SC

Another SC Prison Scandal? Yes …

PALMETTO PRISONS UNDER FIRE FOR EXCESSIVE SOCIAL MEDIA PUNISHMENTS || By FITSNEWS || This website has covered a number of scandals related to the S.C. Department of Corrections – one of multiple mismanaged bureaucracies under the control of South Carolina governor Nikki Haley. Not to put too fine a point on it…

PALMETTO PRISONS UNDER FIRE FOR EXCESSIVE SOCIAL MEDIA PUNISHMENTS

|| By FITSNEWS || This website has covered a number of scandals related to the S.C. Department of Corrections – one of multiple mismanaged bureaucracies under the control of South Carolina governor Nikki Haley.

Not to put too fine a point on it but the agency is a disaster … which is what happens when political appointees are chosen above qualified professionals to perform core functions of government.

In addition to multiple other scoops (HERE, HERE and HERE), we’ve written on several occasions regarding the questionable use of social media by inmates in S.C. prisons (white and black).

That issue is now the subject of a sprawling feature published by the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF).  Using the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), researchers at EFF have uncovered some startling information about the lengths to which South Carolina has gone to crack down on social media usage.

“Over the last three years, prison officials have brought more than 400 hundred disciplinary cases for ‘social networking’ – almost always for using Facebook,” the foundation’s report stated.  “The offenses come with heavy penalties, such as years in solitary confinement and deprivation of virtually all privileges, including visitation and telephone access. In 16 cases, inmates were sentenced to more than a decade in what’s called disciplinary detention, with at least one inmate receiving more than 37 years in isolation.”

Wow … we understand the need to crack down on unauthorized social media usage among inmates, but seriously!  Also we wonder … how many of these inmates were sent to jail on non-violent drug-related charges in the first place?

Hmmmm …

“If a South Carolina inmate caused a riot, took three hostages, murdered them, stole their clothes, and then escaped, he could still wind up with fewer Level 1 offenses than an inmate who updated Facebook every day for two weeks,” the report continued, adding that in many cases the agency “is forced to regularly suspend solitary confinement sentences because of a lack of space in disciplinary segregation.”

Not only that, some of the solitary confinement sentences actually run longer than the prison sentences themselves!

“South Carolina’s policy goes too far, and not only because of the shockingly disproportionate punishments,” the EFF concluded.  “The policy is also incredibly broad; it can be applied to any reason an inmate may ask someone outside to access the Internet for them, such as having a family member manage their online financial affairs, working with activists to organize an online legal defense campaign, sending letters to online news sites, or just staying in touch with family and friends to create the type of community support crucial to reintegrating into society.”

Look: It goes without saying prisoners give up rights when they commit crimes (including the right to participate in social media).  And there should absolutely be consequences when they are found to be in violation the terms of their incarceration.

But this strikes even us as overkill …

***

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55 comments

The Colonel February 13, 2015 at 11:13 am

“Look: It goes without saying prisoners give up rights when they commit crimes (including the right to participate in social media). And there should absolutely be consequences when they are found to be in violation the terms of their incarceration.

But this strikes even us as overkill …

Wow, okay, overkill, hmmm. So what did they actually do? I find it hard to believe they were charged with “posting on Facebook”. Don’t see that in the SC Criminal Code. Maybe they got the “excessive” sentences for possessing contraband, like (multiple) cell phones? Any chance they might have caused other criminal actions as a result of their “Facebook activities”? What is the possibility that other nefarious activities were involved in their “Facebooking”?

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nitrat February 13, 2015 at 11:38 am

I don’t know myself, but what makes you think that behavior while imprisoned has to violate the SC criminal code in order to warrant discipline?
If a prisoner commits an actual crime while imprisoned, aren’t they charged, prosecuted and tried in court?
Just like there are rules for employees that aren’t codified in law, there are surely rules for prisoners that are just rules. But, rules which have disciplinary consequences.
If this is the punishment for rule breaking, not law breaking, it is indeed overkill.

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what about the victims? February 13, 2015 at 11:42 am

Those poor criminals.Send em a Valentine’s card.

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The Colonel February 13, 2015 at 12:07 pm

I was waxing a little poetical – the Sc Criminal Code has nothing to do with this (except that some used theses posting to commit other crimes. Its the SCDC policies and regulations that are being violated. here’s the policy establishing the “Facebook” rule: https://www.eff.org/files/2015/02/12/scdc_social_media_discipline_policies.pdf

“…In order to address violations referencing the social networking policy, the agency will now require that the inmate be charged for each day an inmate posts on a social networking site. For example, if evidence is found that an inmate has posted on a social networking site on five (5) different days, then the inmate would be charged with disciplinary 905 Creating and/or Assisting With A Social Networking Site, 5 counts…”

This explains why some of the penalties were so “harsh”. I don’t think they were excessive at all because numerous rules were being broken to create the posts. The same tools they use to update their “homies” can be used to conduct criminal activities and to put “corrections officers” in danger.

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nitrat February 13, 2015 at 11:27 am

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/11/us/jails-have-become-warehouses-for-the-poor-ill-and-addicted-a-report-says.html
Jails are not prisons, but could the fact that jails are debtors prisons and mental health holding cells and drug and alcohol detox centers have anything to do with judges so easily giving bail to people accused of violent crimes?

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Greg February 13, 2015 at 11:32 am

Bend over taxpayers Nikki Haley is about to cost us all with Federal Lawsuits.

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nitrat February 13, 2015 at 11:35 am

Oh, this will make the international human rights news.
All because she thinks those trial lawyers are bad if they are running against her in an election, but fantastic when she appoints an overwhelming number of them to run state agencies and sit on state boards.

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Boones Farm or a 40 oz? February 13, 2015 at 11:48 am

LMAO! International human rights news?LMAO!!!!

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who makes this shit up? February 13, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Nice.That means you two have read it.I look for this to replace the veto of Keystone and the fall of Yemen in the news the next few days.

The Colonel February 13, 2015 at 12:49 pm

Fringe news – only those interested in prisoners rights (families of prisoners and Amnesty Int.) will care. Frankly I think we are too easy on most prisoners.

South Carolina Is Fucked Up February 13, 2015 at 12:12 pm

ACLU will clean out the entire state bank account with this one. We have a bunch of fucked up ass wipes working FOR US. And everybody out here on the street seems to be getting pretty fucking pissed off with all of them.

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sc is NOT fucked February 13, 2015 at 2:24 pm

Bull fucking shit.

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Mike at the Beach February 13, 2015 at 11:52 pm

Crank up your trusty Westlaw account and let’s hear some case law on that one, counselor. The courts *routinely* side with prisons in regard to controlling inmate behavior that involves inappropriate (unmonitored) contact with the outside world (contraband cell phones, internet use, etc.). That’s how escapes are planned, revenge killings are orchestrated, and smuggling / black market operations are run; dangerous enterprises all. It’s prison, not the Holiday Inn.

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Peter O. February 13, 2015 at 11:36 am

I think it’s more likely they were punished for possessing & using contraband (cell phones) than posting to Facebook.

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par for the course February 13, 2015 at 11:40 am

Good point.Why would anybody be surprised that liberals like FITS and their gang of socialist commentators would want to release criminals and portray them as victims when they express the same sentiments about terrorists at Gitmo?

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The Colonel February 13, 2015 at 12:48 pm

Facebook is specifically mentions in the policy:

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Peter O. February 13, 2015 at 12:57 pm

Right. But I don’t think the strong punishments were specifically for using Facebook so much as the inmate was using contraband or other illegal acts. In the case of the guy who got the 37 years “disciplinary detention,” he was using Facebook to threaten a fellow gang member who ratted on him.

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The Colonel February 13, 2015 at 12:59 pm

Exactly, see my other posts. Facebook is a symptom that can assess when they don’t catch them with the cell phone. This whole outcry (such as it is) is bovine excreta.

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Peter O. February 13, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Okay. Glad we’re on the same page.

Mike at the Beach February 13, 2015 at 11:58 pm

Righto, my good man. I posted a little rant on this just above a little while ago. These clown possess ZERO understanding of the prison world (or the criminal justice system that feeds it). I would love to see these whiners work inside a SC prison for ONE FREAKING SHIFT. They would be curled up on the floor sucking their thumbs after about 20 minutes of exposure to all those poor, innocent, kind-hearted oppressed souls in there.

euwe max February 14, 2015 at 12:31 am

A society is judged by how it treats its *lowest* members.

Mike at the Beach February 14, 2015 at 12:48 am

That’s sweet, but we have some serious issues in certain parts of American culture. When the “lowest” members start robbing, beating, and killing people, you lock their asses up. Fixating on numbers doesn’t help. The numbers you posted elsewhere on here are US numbers (SC numbers are coming down relatively quickly). Rather than whine about all of these poor mistreated and oppressed prisoners, take a look at their offenses. To get back to 1985-90 numbers we’d have to cut a solid majority of current prisoners loose. Most of those would be violent shitbags. Maybe they can stay at your house. We have problems to be sure, but prison (and prosecution) aren’t the main ones. The yare symptoms.

euwe max February 14, 2015 at 2:43 am

Locking them up is acceptable – treating them like animals is not.

Mike at the Beach February 14, 2015 at 3:05 am

Soooooo…why the prison numbers and all that? What exactly are you arguing now, that not letting prisoners (most of whom are serving time for violent offenses) use fucking Facebook somehow represents “treating them like animals? They… are… in… prison. They are neither entitled to nor deserve social media access, which is dangerous anyway. US prisoners live better (nutritionally and physically) than a pretty sizable percentage of the world population, and plenty of safeguards exist to protect them from genuinely bad treatment (please don’t throw anecdotal exceptions at us). I’ve dropped folks off at prisons in Brazil, Egypt, Pakistan, and a few other choice places around the globe. You can bet your ass there was no Tweeting going on in those joints. If I had to pick a country in which to go to prison for a violent offense, the US wouldn’t be my first choice, but it would sure as Hell be a lot closer to the top of the list than the bottom.

euwe max February 14, 2015 at 4:28 am

Make the punishment fit the crime.

Mike at the Beach February 14, 2015 at 5:37 pm

It does, so there. All fixed.

Youcanthandlethetruth February 14, 2015 at 8:02 am

Hmmm…Bundespolizei

Mike at the Beach February 14, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Facts are pesky things…

Peter O. February 13, 2015 at 11:59 am

“Also we wonder … how many of these inmates were sent to jail on non-violent drug-related charges in the first place?”
Well, the guy you feel bad for receiving 37 years of disciplinary detention is Tyheem Henry. You know… the scumbag who led the gang that beat up an innocent teen running through Five Points? The one who you previously criticized SCDC for not making his life in prison terrible enough?!!
https://www.fitsnews.com/2013/09/09/sc-corrections-prison-or-playtime/
You damn hypocrite.

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The People Will Come 4 Rogues February 13, 2015 at 12:10 pm

Cruel and Unusual punishment. And those responsible for engaging within such must be held responsible in their “personal capacity.” As a tax payer, I AM NOT GOING TO PAY FOR THIS ROGUE GOVERNMENTS DEFENSE. And I will tell you, there are tens of millions standing along side of me with pitchforks who have the exact same position.

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Tazmaniac February 13, 2015 at 12:35 pm

Only 1.2 Million voted in the Gov. race in total, w/ 689,319(56.0%) going to Haley. I highly doubt you can even get 1 Million to stand with you, unless for some reason you all stayed home so Haley could win the election? Anyway, I hope it is therapeutic for you to bang these rants out on your keyboard. As for this article, what a crazy slant. I wonder sometimes what the cause is behind some of these illogical rants.

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Taz is an Azz February 13, 2015 at 1:38 pm

Why so angry? And why are you using a government isp to post here?

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Slice of Pizza February 13, 2015 at 12:14 pm

Is South Carolina moving back towards the 1990s when they imprisoned everyone for stupid petty shit? No prisons have been built in SC in almost 20 years. But the state’s population since then has increased by almost 2 million.

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Slice of Pizza February 13, 2015 at 12:18 pm

When you take in the totality of what has been going on in state government, the Haley administration, and the state legislature, it is easy to see just how much a mess everything really is. You don’t fix it with the same people and playing musical chairs. Your first move to fix it all is a swift kick to the asses of all the assholes that caused this mess in the first place.

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Bible Thumper February 13, 2015 at 12:18 pm

The state has already cracked down on State employees. Now they are cracking down on prisoners. Who will be left to post comments on fitsnews?

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LeeBrightsDrugDealer February 13, 2015 at 12:42 pm

Wouldn’t it be a lot easier (and cheaper as well) to just block Facebook at a network level? Or does the government not understand how the interwebs can work?
Oh wait, if they block it completely then the wardens won’t be able to look at the hot girls. Ok, I get it now.

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The Colonel February 13, 2015 at 12:52 pm

That’s the real issue here – most prisoners can’t access the internet legally. They’re using contraband cell phones to do their Facebooking, Snapchatting etc. The cellphones are the real issue – this just treats the symptoms when they don’t catch them with the phones. The real solution is to allow cell phone jamming technology. A move that has been blocked repeatedly by the State House. Here’s a link to their last attempt: http://www.doc.sc.gov/pubweb/news/SCDC_Petition_for_Rulemaking.pdf

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LeeBrightsDrugDealer February 14, 2015 at 8:43 am

That makes sense. If the cell phones are jammed, how will the politicians contact their minions when they go to jail? They could just create a localized EMP that erases data within a cell block.

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euwe max February 13, 2015 at 6:14 pm

No. It’s cell phone access. Blocking access requires technology that doesn’t exist yet.

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E Norma Scok February 13, 2015 at 1:34 pm

If I’d killed her, when I met her, I’d be gettin’ out about now

Let me clarify that..if I’d hypothetically, theoretically, accidentally, most unintentionally killed her when I met her….I’d be gettin’ out about now.

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Not Siding With Prisoners Yo February 13, 2015 at 2:34 pm

Big nothingburger here. Good job Director Stirling, keep up the good work.

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davis mcclam February 13, 2015 at 3:36 pm

I agree that using political appointees to run SCDC is not good. This started with Sanford when he appointed Jon Osmit.
I would also say that the crackdown on use of social media is nowhere near severe enough. Inmates use social media and cell phones to find out where employees live, to coordinate gang activity both inside and outside the prisons and facilitate getting contraband inside. You have absolutely no idea how dangerous it is to work inside of a prison.I know, I was a teacher there for eleven years. There have been numerous times that an employee has been intimidated outside simply for doing their jobs while inside.I never met an inmate who was inside for singing to loud in a church choir. These people are the scum of the earth. The mission statement for SCDC is to protect the public, protect the employees and protect the inmates. Use of social media creates danger in all three instances. Don’t throw your rocks until you have worked there and have heard that sliding iron door shut behind you when you go to work every day.

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nitrat February 13, 2015 at 8:11 pm

Then, we need to do something about the cell phones and contraband.
I just don’t know if we get what we want when they are released if they are treated like animals when they are inside.

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Soft Sigh from Hell February 13, 2015 at 5:39 pm

So when Metts goes to some country-club slammer, can we set up a Facebook account for him and post stuff in the middle of the night (when he has no witnesses) and get him sent to solitary? How can anyone know who makes the new postings?

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euwe max February 13, 2015 at 6:11 pm

Maybe they watch the account, and when the post comes up they raid his cell real-time… or cube, or recreation room.. whatever.

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Mike at the Beach February 13, 2015 at 7:45 pm

“…how many of these inmates were sent to jail on non-violent drug-related charges in the first place?”

That’s some old mythology you’re wondering about. In SC, we’ve changed sentencing and prison management (especially over the past 3-5 years). Only about a third of the inmate population is serving time for any non-violent offense (although, a non-violent offense isn’t necessarily minor). Further, all of those non-violent offenses weren’t necessarily committed by non-violent people. Often times, the law enforcement and prosecutorial communities use a relatively minor offense to put a really bad actor on ice for a while; whatever work, you know?

Further, the SC reforms are not only resulting in fewer low-level drug offenders inside, but fewer inmates overall. SC’s actually seen one of the bigger reductions (measured as a percentage of overall inmate population) over the past few years- http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p11.pdf

So statistically speaking, the reality is that the vast majority of the current inmates you will run across on Facebook (I mean in a SC prison) will very likely be a violent shitbag with a pretty good criminal history. Here’s an old article that came out after a bit of political grandstanding / pandering to the left perpetrated by Eric Holder a few years back that explains the logic: http://www.islandpacket.com/2013/08/14/2629941/non-violent-crime-federal-reform.html

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Will Folks February 13, 2015 at 11:49 pm

A lot of people though I should go to jail for CDV in 2005. Domestic abusers are likely to be repeat offenders though so don’t hold your breath.

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Mike at the Beach February 13, 2015 at 11:53 pm

Dude- Will is in your head. Sitting on your couch eating your Doritos. Let him out…

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Will Folks February 14, 2015 at 12:00 am

To be fair, I criticize a lot of people when my actions in the past have been far worse. Often times my criticisms are sophomoric and personal. With these comments I’m just turning the lens back on myself.

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Mr. Haley? February 16, 2015 at 7:36 pm

He humped your wife, didn’t he?

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James R. Inabinet February 14, 2015 at 9:00 pm

The truly sad fact is that probably half the cell phones being used to access social media are being brought in by employees. What’s worse is often the supervisors for these employees are just as dirty and refuse to do anything, often saying that they’ve known that officer for years and they wouldn’t do that sort of thing. As a former sergeant who worked at two different institutions, I can tell you there’s a ridiculous amount of crap that is covered up that the public does not know that would have them raising all kinds of hell were they to find out.

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snickering February 16, 2015 at 4:47 pm

Over Kill is Understated. Much of the problem stems from when Governor Campbell hired an outside person to build S.C.’s prisons. His name was McDonnell or McDermot. he was finally run out of state as the indictments were being handed down. Also I don’t want to pay living costs some convicts where there is no victim.

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It Happens February 17, 2015 at 11:33 am

They get on social media by using CELLPHONES which are illegal for inmates to have. Why? Because they use then to commit crimes. They used a cellphone to put out a contract on Captain Robert Johnson. he was shot six times and survived! They continue their criminal enterprises by cellphone, file false tax returns by cellphones, use pre paid debit card accounts to purchase contraband and commit crimes. It is not just the social media that SCDC worries about!

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