A twenty-one-year-old inmate at the much-maligned Alvin S. Glenn detention center in Richland County, South Carolina has retained legal counsel in the aftermath of repeated sexual assaults he allegedly endured at the facility.
According to a news release from the Columbia, S.C.-based Strom Law Firm, the unnamed 21-year-old has been “repeatedly raped by multiple inmates and a guard” while awaiting trial on what his attorneys claim is a “simple drug charge.” The inmate was raped on at least two different occasions “beginning on August 26 by four different perpetrators,” his attorneys alleged.
“One sexual assault is too many – one time is unacceptable,” Strom attorney Bakari Sellers said. “This young man was subjected to multiple assaults by multiple perpetrators, including an Alvin S. Glenn detention officer. And after the first assault, jail staff returned this young man to the same dorm where the first assault occurred. They literally sent the victim back to the scene of the crime so he could be sexually assaulted again.”
Sellers and his co-counsel – Strom attorney Alexandra “Ally” Benevento – have previously filed several cases involving “a long and ever-growing line of victims at Richland County’s troubled jail.” Seven other lawsuits are currently pending against the county and jail officials “on behalf of numerous other detainees who were violently and brutally assaulted while awaiting trial.”
In addition to these lawsuits, in February of this year Sellers and Benevento called on the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate “subhuman conditions” at the facility – conditions which were allegedly tied to “an ingrained culture of violating civil rights of detainees.”
Their letter (.pdf) not only accused jail staff of “facilitating, participating in, or failing to intervene in (violent) attacks,” but also of having “routinely not provided (inmates) with the most basic necessities required under state and federal law, including running water, adequate medical care, bathing opportunities, or clean clothing and bedding.”
“Richland County, despite knowing of these issues, has done nothing to address them,” the letter added.
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Around the time of the DOJ referral, Benevento submitted a guest column to this media outlet describing the atrocious conditions at the facility.
“The detention center is housing people in deplorable conditions, including filthy, rodent-infested cells with no running water, littered with urine and feces,” Benevento wrote.
“How many more beatings, stabbings, sexual assaults and deaths need to happen on their watch before Richland County takes some meaningful action?” Benevento said in response to the latest allegations. “Alvin S. Glenn is hell on earth. It is a war zone. Every single member of the public should be outraged by these horrific failures. This is every parent’s nightmare. Our client is presumed innocent, detained for a non-violent drug charge. Instead of keeping him safe, the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, through its inexcusable incompetence and indifference, set the stage for the most horrific and unimaginable violations someone can experience. This young man’s life is forever changed. When is enough going to be enough?”
I asked Benevento about the systemic issues at “the Glenn” – and why nothing has happened since she and Sellers raised these issues with DOJ.
“This is yet another heartbreaking story that amplifies known problems at a known problem location,” she said. “From deaths, to brutal and violent physical assaults, to now—sexual assaults, we have seen time and time and time again that this facility is woefully ill-equipped to do its job. With each passing day, we hear accounts of inhumane conditions, violence and unimaginable violations of people’s rights. And it isn’t slowing down. And nothing seems to change. Another day, another violent attack.”
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“201 John Mark Dial Drive is looking more and more like the most dangerous address in Richland County,” Benevento added.
As I noted in a post published in March of this year, you won’t find a more strident voice in the Palmetto State’s marketplace of ideas than mine when it comes to holding violent criminals accountable for their actions. Same goes for the system coddling these violent criminals at the expense of victims – and at the expense of the safety of the public.
“I am downright Hammurabian on that front, people,” I noted.
I support the ultimate punishment (or worse) for horrific violent crimes, and I believe there are certain criminals who should be locked up for the rest of their natural days. With the key thrown away.
Still, detention centers and correctional facilities should never be permitted to deteriorate to the point many of them (including the Glenn) have deteriorated … and detainees and inmates inside these facilities should never be subjected to these sorts of inhumanities.
“South Carolina can – and must – do better at every step of its criminal justice system, including once violent criminals have been taken off of the streets and placed in the care of our correctional institutions,” I noted back in March. That goes double for those presumed innocent who are awaiting a hearing on their charges.
Clearly, that call continues to go unheeded at “the Glenn.”
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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