CORE FUNCTION IN CHAOS
Inmates – not correctional officers – run the “maximum security” prison in Ridgeville, South Carolina that made national news last week following the escape of violent inmate Jimmy Causey.
Stephens interviewed a former officer at Lieber who described an institution controlled by the inmates – not the officers who are supposed to be guarding them.
“Towards the end of my career, they were running an entire yard off of ten officers,” the former S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC) officer told Stephens. “They’ll get away with it because they’ll say, ‘Oh we have 25 personnel.’ But most of them will be people up front working the front desk being not in uniform. Then the rest of them, the ten that actually showed up to work, are out there in the dorms working with the inmates.”
The inmate said dorms that should be patrolled by a lieutenant, a sergeant and two officers are instead being worked part-time by only one officer.
In some cases that has led to an alarming 140-to-1 ratio of inmates to officers.
“Because the staffing is so short, it is common that you can have one officer working both wings by themselves,” the ex-officer told Stephens.
The results are predictable …
Drug use and violence are rampant – and yet many hardened criminals are actually choosing to remain behind the prison walls because they are making more money off of various illegal enterprises than they could ever make on the outside. The facility is also littered with cell phones – which corrections officials blamed in the aftermath of Causey’s escape.
According to Stephens’ report, guards are afraid to take phones and weapons from prisoners because they lack backup and don’t want to get killed during ensuing riots.
Stephens’ account is entirely consistent with what we are hearing from our network of sources. In fact, shortly after we published our latest report detailing the breakdowns in protocol associated with Causey’s escape we received numerous messages describing the deplorable conditions inside Lieber.
This website has covered numerous SCDC scandals over the years – including efforts by former governor Nikki Haley’s administration to cover up prison riots. Palmetto prisons have also served as a backdrop for sex scandals and murders. And serious sentencing errors.
SCDC is slated to receive $482.3 million in the fiscal year that began on July 1 – an increase of 3.7 percent from the $464.7 million it received during the 2016-2017 fiscal year. According to its website, the agency employs 5,700 staffers and has 20,000 inmates at 22 different facilities.
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