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Crime & Courts

Justice Department Investigating South Carolina Jails

Feds launch investigations in Richland, Charleston counties …

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Federal officials are investigating the two largest county detention centers in South Carolina amidst a surge in deaths and allegations of civil rights violations. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced investigations into conditions at the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center in Charleston and the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Columbia at a press conference on Thursday (November 2, 2023).

“People confined in local jails across our country do not abandon their civil and constitutional rights at the jailhouse door,” said Kristen Clarke, an assistant attorney general with DOJ’s civil rights division. “We are launching these investigations to determine whether the jail conditions in two of South Carolina’s largest counties comply with basic constitutional standards. We are committed to ensuring that people held inside jails and prisons are not subjected to excessive force, violent conditions, inadequate medical and mental health care, and other dangerous physical conditions while in the custody of their local government.”

The DOJ investigation comes eight months after attorneys Bakari Sellers and Alexandra “Ally” Benevento of the Columbia, S.C.-based Strom Law firm sent a letter to the agency imploring its civil rights division to investigate “subhuman conditions” and “an ingrained culture of violating civil rights of detainees” at the the Alvin S. Glenn detention center (a.k.a. “The Glenn”).

Their letter (.pdf) accused jail staff of “facilitating, participating in, or failing to intervene in (violent) attacks,” and 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.”

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This media outlet has covered issues at both detention centers extensively. Five weeks ago, we published an editorial saying federal and state officials “must intervene” in the crisis.

“The Alvin S. Glenn detention center has become the equivalent of a radioactive ‘exclusion zone,'” our editorial noted.

DOJ investigators will be working with prosecutors in the office of U.S. attorney Adair Ford Boroughs to investigate problems ranging from unsanitary conditions – like mold and vermin – to the prevalence of violence, the improper use of force by guards and lack of access to medical and mental health care.

“Our office is committed to protecting the constitutional rights and ensuring the safety of all people in South Carolina, including those being detained or incarcerated in county detention centers,” Boroughs said. “We look forward to working with the Civil Rights Division to ensure the safety of those housed in these facilities.”

Within the past week at “The Glenn,” one inmate was found dead of unknown causes and another was stabbed.

Last year, 27-year-old Lason Butler died while in the custody of the facility. His family issued a statement in response to the announcement from DOJ.

“For too long, the officials at Richland County have turned a blind eye to the violence and neglect infesting Alvin S. Glenn,” Butler’s family said. “They have ignored this death trap and the cries of victims while the cost in lives and suffering continues to rise. It’s disgraceful, it’s inexcusable and it’s downright criminal.”

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RELATED | SOUTH CAROLINA DETENTION CENTER CRISIS

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In Charleston County, detainee D’Angelo Brown died of enteroaggregative escherichia (EAEC) coli sepsis with septic shock and “multiple organ system failure” on December 22, 2022. In other words, an untreated bacterial infection in Brown’s digestive system caused his body to shut down over a period of several weeks.

Charleston County coroner Bobbi Jo O’Neal attributed Brown’s death to “gross medical neglect” – and classified it as a homicide.

The Charleston county facility – which is run by county sheriff Kristin Graziano – houses as many as 1,693 detainees. Since last year, eight deaths have been reported.

The Richland county facility – which is run by the county independent of the sheriff’s office – houses as many as 1,116 detainees. Since last year, six deaths have been reported.

At a press conference held on Thursday afternoon in response to the DOJ investigation, Richland County attorney Patrick Wright said he welcomed an impartial inquiry – however he expressed frustration over “misrepresentations and untruths” related to allegations of sexual assault at “The Glenn.” According to Wright, an investigation into those allegations by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) was closed for lack of credible information.

That statement has not been verified, however. In fact, sources familiar with the situation tell this media outlet Wright’s statement is inaccurate. Stay tuned for an update on that situation …

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Callie Lyons (Provided)

Callie Lyons is a journalist, researcher, and author whose investigative work can be found in media outlets, publications, and documentaries all over the world – most recently in the Parisian newspaper Le Monde and a German documentary for ProSieben. Lyons also appears in Citizen Sleuth – a 2023 documentary exploring the genre of true crime.

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3 comments

Observer (the real one) November 5, 2023 at 9:27 pm

It is well past time that something be done about ASGDC. Pretty much weekly deaths, stabbings, beatings, and rapes, appear to be the norm, there. Earlier ghis year, RC County Council confirmed the then acting jail director as permanent in that position, even though no improvement in the stats for the above horrors was apparent. How did they justify this?

What about the missing man with mental handicap issues? Has he been seen or heard from since disappearing following his release by ASGDC personnel?

Seriously, W T F?

Reply
SubZeroIQ November 12, 2023 at 9:15 pm

? While they are at it, the feds should investigate this, too, because no one else in South Carolina would tell this story in its full breadth.
It can be a big scoop for you AFTER you fact-check, which should be easy enough if you have Becky Hill’s book “Behind the Doors of Justice.” It turns out not only Becky Hill and the jurors of the Alex Murdaugh case wanted “their 15 minutes” but they put their children, too, with them.
In Becky “Boo” Hill’s book page 191, you see a photo of Boo’s daughter with this caption:
Country music star, Dustin Lynch, and my “plus one” (daughter Aubrey) spent time together in NBC’s The Today Show green room.
TRANSLATION: At least Becky Hill AND HER DAUGHTER flew expense-free to New York with at least three jurors who voted guilty, each of which PRESUMABLY has a “plus one,” too.
So, at least 8 people had a luxury junket to New York paid for with the blood and tears of Paul, Maggie, and Alex Murdaugh.
It gets even worse:
At pages 59-60 of her book, Becky Hill writes:
What I learned on our flight to New York City after the trial was that three close friends of his [meaning of a male juror who voted guilty] all chipped in and paid the financially strapped juror his regular salary. For all six weeks of the trial! Several thousand dollars.
TRANSLATION: Thousands of dollars were being paid DIRECTLY from an outside source to a juror who voted guilty to enable him to stay on the jury.
WHO ARE THOSE THREE CLOSE FRIENDS? Why was it important for them that THIS juror serve on the jury? Was that even their own money or were they funnelling it from an outside source?
That is way, way, worse than anything Becky Hill admits to about her own misconduct.

Reply
SubZeroIQ November 15, 2023 at 9:10 am

Alex Murdaugh (“AM”) spent many months at Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center (“ASGDC”), too; and we know much of the inner workings of that jail from AM’s released phone calls.
BTW, many comments assume a single murderer of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh. That is because EVERYTHING gets falsified by the Prosecution, even the testimony of its own witnesses.
The much-touted-and-vaunted Kinney Kinsey, Ph D, testified he CANNOT rule out “two shooters or multiple shooters” but the headlines were “State star witness destroys defense’s two-shooter theory.”
Mark my word (and I was the FIRST ONE to comment long ago that Becky Hill’s book is cause to overturn AM’s wrongful convictions) the real shooters are TWO WOMEN.
There is much OBJECTIVE evidence for that; but it is NOT the defendant’s job to find the real shooters. It is the job of law enforcement. We know that, in this case (as sadly in too many other cases) law enforcement had tunnel vision from the start. Becky Hill even writes that in her book that the local press release meant that law enforcement had AM as their single suspect from the beginning.

Reply

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