South Carolina’s most notorious inmate is in hot water with prison officials for abusing his access to a state-issued tablet – and stealing another inmate’s personal identification number to make a telephone call.
As a result, he’s had his tablet privileges taken away from him …
Oh, one of Alex Murdaugh‘s attorneys is also facing scrutiny for leaking a recording of his client to a national news outlet for its use in an upcoming documentary.
Murdaugh – imprisoned for life after a Colleton County jury found him guilty six months ago of murdering his wife and younger son – was cited by the S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC) on Monday (August 28, 2023) for these violations, which are tied to his participation in a Fox Nation documentary that drops tomorrow morning.
This news outlet previewed the upcoming documentary in a previous post.
“The charges involve providing information to be delivered to the news media for an interview and also using a fellow inmate’s PIN number to make a telephone call,” the SCDC release (.pdf) noted. “These charges violate SCDC’s inmate interview policy and our policy against inmates sharing PIN numbers.”
An incident report accompanying the release stated Murdaugh “willingly and knowingly abused his telephone privileges to communicate with the news media for his own gain.”
SCDC has a longstanding policy of not permitting inmates to conduct media interviews. This policy is “rooted in victims’ rights,” according to the agency – specifically the belief that “victims of crime should not have to see or hear the person who victimized them or their family member on the news.”
“Inmates lose the privilege of speaking to the media when they enter SCDC,” the release noted.
How did Murdaugh manage to cheat the system?
According to SCDC, “Murdaugh provided the interview information to his attorney through a legal call.”
Given that Murdaugh is appealing his double homicide convictions, calls with his attorneys are protected – i.e. they are not recorded by corrections officials.
“Attorney Jim Griffin recorded Murdaugh reading the information and provided it to the media,” the release noted. “When information reached the department on August 8 about the interview, Murdaugh’s tablet and phone privileges were immediately revoked pending a review of the incidents. After his phone privileges were revoked, Murdaugh used a fellow inmate’s PIN number to make a telephone call, which is prohibited.”
Murdaugh’s attorney – Jim Griffin of Columbia, S.C. – was sent a letter by SCDC “explaining that (his) conduct is prohibited by policy and warning the attorneys of the consequences.”
“Your actions, whether you intended or not, assisted Mr. Murdaugh in violating our policy and could jeopardize your telephonic communications with him in the future,” the letter to Griffin noted. “Attorney calls are provided to assist with legal claims, not for other unrelated purposes.”
(Click to view)
The letter put Griffin “on notice” and urged him “to refrain from further actions of this nature.”
As for Murdaugh, the department “will determine when and if inmate Murdaugh will earn the opportunity to be issued a tablet again.”
Like all SCDC inmates, upon his incarceration Murdaugh received a prison-issued tablet containing educational software, limited entertainment options and heavily regulated phone and messaging capability. The tablet – which is part of a “pre-approved prison package from a national vender” – is not connected to the internet, and all of Murdaugh’s activities on the device are monitored.
Of interest? Ever since Murdaugh was assigned to SCDC on March 3, 2023 following his convictions, this news outlet – specifically our amazing research director Jenn Wood – has submitted regular Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests seeking access to his communications.
Wood received the latest response from SCDC earlier this week, and for the first time it contained records which revealed Murdaugh was sending messages to people as opposed to merely receiving them.
Take a look …
(Click to view)
As you can see in the highlighted messages above, Murdaugh traded multiple messages with a “Taylor L” regarding communications with “j,” “jim” or Jim.”
“Pls tell j phones r down,” Murdaugh wrote in one message to Taylor. “Trying to determine options for 3 pm. TY!”
In the messages, Taylor asked Murdaugh on multiple occasions to “call Jim’s cell” or to call “here to the office” at specific times, which would suggest the sender of the messages was physically located in “Jim’s” office. In another message, Taylor indicated “Jim” was instructing them to pass information about a phone call along to Murdaugh.
“Jim said to call his cell at 3:00 if that works for you,” they wrote.
Again, in all of the previous FOIA responses we received from SCDC, Murdaugh was receiving communications – not making them.
“This is the first time a FOIA has come back with a response message from Alex to someone … Taylor L,” Wood said in reviewing the latest response.
THE RELEASE …
(Via: S.C. Department of Corrections)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
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.
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