A group of protesters gathered outside of Perry Correctional Institution in Pelzer, South Carolina on Saturday to demand better treatment for incarcerated inmates across the Palmetto State.
The group – led by Palmetto prison reform advocate Teresa Bebeau – is particularly concerned that inmates at Perry are being kept in the dark (literally) by steel plates covering their cellblock windows.
The issue is one of many Bebeau and her allies are intent on addressing in the months to come.
Perry is a level three (maximum security) prison that opened in 1981. It houses an estimated 650 inmates in four dorms. These brick and concrete structures feature steel plates that Bebeau and her fellow advocates say prevent inmates from being able to see the sun during the day.
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“We need windows uncovered now for natural light,” Bebeau (above) told us.
“No light causes depression,” said Jackie Wallace, who joined Bebeau outside Perry on an overcast, September Saturday morning.
“Everyone needs sunlight,” added Christy Davis, another member of the Perry protest.
Bebeau, Wallace and Davis carried hand-painted placards with them reading “Let Natural Light In!” and “Uncover The Windows!” Other placards read “Compassion,” “Faith” and “Tolerance.”
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Officials with the S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC) – the agency which runs Perry and twenty other prisons in the Palmetto State – tell us they are listening to the concerns raised by Bebeau and her fellow advocates. According to them, a statewide effort is currently underway to remove the steel plates from prison windows.
“(We are) removing them statewide and putting on covers that will allow light,” one source familiar with the situation told us, describing the effort as “already in process.”
The source said the new covers are already being installed at Broad River Correctional Institution, a maximum security facility located just north of the state capital of Columbia, S.C.
A timeframe for statewide installation is not available.
“Remove the metal coverings now!” advocate Lindsey Berry said. “(This is) inhumane treatment.”
Our view? This news outlet has written frequently on the need to reform Palmetto State prisons. To read our comprehensive post on this subject from a few years back, click here.
As for this specific situation, we would advocate for the removal of the plates … as it appears SCDC is doing.
What do you think? Vote in our poll and post your thoughts in our always-lively comments section below …
Should prisoners be allowed access to natural light?
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(VIA: GETTY IMAGES)