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South Carolina’s Juvenile Justice Disaster: Update On Federal Involvement

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The ongoing meltdown at the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (SCDJJ) is once again attracting federal attention – which is not surprising seeing as Palmetto State governor Henry McMaster has done absolutely nothing to address the worsening crisis at this agency.

In fact, McMaster’s continued support for embattled agency director Freddie Pough has compounded SCDJJ’s myriad problems … as news director Mandy Matney and I have both extensively chronicled.

Not only that, McMaster has gone after state lawmakers for trying to fix SCDJJ – verbally haranguing a pair of state senators who recently attempted to bring some long-overdue accountability to this catastrophically mismanaged agency.

All the while, dangerous dysfunction at the agency continues to escalate …

Pough was hand-picked by McMaster to fix this troubled bureaucracy in 2017 after a scathing audit forced the resignation of former governor Nikki Haley’s director.

What has his “leadership” yielded? According to a follow-up report issued by the S.C. Legislative Audit Council (SCLAC) earlier this year, things have gotten exponentially worse.

(Click to view)

(Via: S.C. Governor’s Office)

“The agency’s inability to retain and hire security staff has created a ‘snowball’ effect that not only creates conditions that are hazardous to youth and staff at its secure facilities, but limits the agency’s ability to correct those conditions,” the report concluded, chiding Pough (above, right) for failing to target state funding toward critical needs.

Also, as Matney reported last February, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued its own report alleging constitutional violations at SCDJJ.

“South Carolina fails to keep youth reasonably safe from youth-on-youth violence,” DOJ officials noted, adding that the agency’s “failure to train its staff, implement effective behavior management tools, and establish key safety features in its physical plant, seriously harms youth or places them at substantial risk of serious harm from other youth.”

That’s putting it politely if you ask me … especially in light of the latest revelations to rock this agency (specifically reports of a 16-year-old landing in an intensive care unit at a Columbia, S.C. hospital following a brutal beating).

So … what is the latest on the federal investigation of SCDJJ?

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According to my sources, earlier this week several lawmakers who serve on a committee led by S.C. senator Katrina Shealy had a teleconference with DOJ officials about the deteriorating situation at the agency. Specifically, these federal officials reportedly heard galling details from an unannounced visit Shealy paid to SCJJ last month.

During that visit, the veteran legislative leader reportedly saw first-hand how deplorable the conditions at the agency’s Broad River Road Complex (BRCC) have become.

While sources on the call declined to go into specific details about what was discussed, they indicated federal officials were “concerned” by what they heard.

One source put it more bluntly …

“They were blown away,” the source said.

Good …

This four-alarm dumpster fire needs to be seen for exactly what it is … a conflagration that is burning out of control.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Via: FITSNews)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that Mike Schmidt-era Philadelphia Phillies’ lid pictured above).

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