Report: Corrections Dept. wasting thousands of dollars in perks - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Report: Warden making 142-mile daily commute on taxpayers' dime

WIS follows Tyger River Correctional Warden Tim Riley driving to work from home in Columbia WIS follows Tyger River Correctional Warden Tim Riley driving to work from home in Columbia
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

The South Carolina Department of Corrections spends about $100,000 a year on a program that gives prison wardens a free ride to work.

The inspector general's report is six months old. It looks into potential waste inside the state Department of Corrections.

WIS took a look at the report to see if anything has changed.

Reporter Jody Barr sat, watched and waited for Tyger River Correctional Warden Tim Riley to leave for work.

Just before 7 a.m., Riley rolled his state-issued Chevy out of his garage and started his one hour, 10 minute ride to work.

Riley lives in Columbia, five miles from the Department of Corrections headquarters.

But every day, for the past five years, Riley drives 71 miles up interstate 26 out of Richland county, through Lexington, Newberry, Laurens and Union Counties.

His Spartanburg County office inside the Tyger River prison.

Riley is one of 28 wardens across the state, the office of inspector general says, who has a state issued car and fuel charge card.

"For you to tell me now, six months later, that nothing's changed, is concerning and upsetting to me," said retired SC Inspector General Jim Martin.

Martin wrote the investigative report on corrections wardens' car use back in January. He believes there's no way the Department of Corrections can justify the car benefit.

"There have been only two disturbances in five years at Tyger River that necessitated the warden actually making that trip in an emergency situation," said Martin. "So when you take five years worth of commuting and the expense to tax payers, I think that's being a little extreme."

In five years, Martin figured Riley's trips cost tax payers more than $32,000 with fuel prices well above $3 a gallon.

It's the same story across the state with other wardens who also make similar trips from their Columbia homes to prisons in rural areas. Areas where they choose not to live.

"You've got to be able to respond very quickly because a situation at a prison can get nasty very quickly and it could be a matter of life and death," said Department of Corrections Spokesperson Clark Newsom.

Newsom says it's a matter of public safety that a warden be able to respond to a prison emergency, quickly and in a matter of minutes.

Riley lives one hour, 10 minutes away.

"Some would say 30 minutes would be timely, but an hour and 10 minutes away?" Barr asked Newsom.

"They have to be ready to get there as quickly as they possibly can because it can make a very, very big difference in the way if it's a life or death situation," responded Newsom.

The Inspector General's report offered other ways to get a warden to a prison quickly: the use of SLED's helicopter, or a ride with a state trooper or a sled agent, who would have to respond anyway.

Six months to the day of the inspector general's report our evidence shows in the Tim Riley case, nothing changed.

"Has there been any policy change at this point, since the Inspector General's report came out in January?" Barr asked.

"Yes, as I mentioned, a question--and a weighted question--in there is whether or not you intend to live in the community," said Newsom. "We're not requiring them to do that, but it makes a difference."

"It kind of says that, myself and the investigators wasted a lot of time doing all the investigating, traveling to Tyger River, interviewing employees, going out and meeting with the Department of Corrections officials in Columbia, because it all fell on deaf ears," said Martin. "So that in and of itself is a waste."

We asked Governor Nikki Haley why corrections, which is a cabinet agency, hasn't stopped what the inspector general calls "wasteful spending."

The Governor's office never responded.

The problem for the Inspector General is once the office issues recommendations, who makes sure the agency heads implement the changes, to make sure tax dollars are used efficiently?

WIS haven't gotten an answer to that from the governor's office. And in the prison warden vehicle case, the spending continues.

Copyright 2012 WIS.  All rights reserved.  

SIDEBAR: Tyger River

Updated:

Click here to read the Tyger River report from the Office of the Inspector General (PDF).Click here to read the response from the Department of Corrections (PDF). More>>

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • Severe reaction to new sandals leads woman on a painful path

    Severe reaction to new sandals leads woman on a painful path

        One woman wants to warn people about her painful path, the result of a severe and debilitating allergic reaction.  She had no idea what she was allergic to until she visited a fourth emergency room in two weeks.    

    More >>

    One woman wants to warn people about her painful path, the result of a severe and debilitating allergic reaction. She had no idea what she was allergic to until she visited a fourth emergency room in two weeks.    

    More >>
  • 'The Phantom' serial killer of children out of prison, living in Tucson

    'The Phantom' serial killer of children out of prison, living in Tucson

    Thursday, April 27 2017 12:17 AM EDT2017-04-27 04:17:43 GMT
    Friday, April 28 2017 11:32 PM EDT2017-04-29 03:32:02 GMT
    Convicted killer William Huff was spotted riding his bicycle through a Tucson neighborhood. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)Convicted killer William Huff was spotted riding his bicycle through a Tucson neighborhood. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

    William Huff terrorized Sierra Vista during the spring and summer of 1967. Despite a sentence of 40 years to life, the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency voted to release him from prison into home arrest. Family members of the victims are concerned for the safety of the community, as are new members of the Clemency Board. CBS 5 Investigates videotaped Huff riding a bike through his Tucson neighborhood. There are no restrictions placed on his proximity to children.

    More >>

    William Huff terrorized Sierra Vista during the spring and summer of 1967. Despite a sentence of 40 years to life, the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency voted to release him from prison into home arrest. Family members of the victims are concerned for the safety of the community, as are new members of the Clemency Board. CBS 5 Investigates videotaped Huff riding a bike through his Tucson neighborhood. There are no restrictions placed on his proximity to children. 

    More >>
  • South Carolina news on WIStv.comNEWSMore>>

  • Trump to spend Day 100 in office talking tough on trade

    Trump to spend Day 100 in office talking tough on trade

    Saturday, April 29 2017 5:29 AM EDT2017-04-29 09:29:28 GMT
    Saturday, April 29 2017 5:29 AM EDT2017-04-29 09:29:28 GMT

    On Day 100 in office, Trump to visit Pennsylvania to talk tough on trade, mark milestone with rally.

    More >>

    On Day 100 in office, Trump to visit Pennsylvania to talk tough on trade, mark milestone with rally.

    More >>
  • Security tight as pope celebrates open-air Mass in Cairo

    Security tight as pope celebrates open-air Mass in Cairo

    Saturday, April 29 2017 5:30 AM EDT2017-04-29 09:30:56 GMT
    Saturday, April 29 2017 5:30 AM EDT2017-04-29 09:30:56 GMT

    Pope Francis will celebrate Mass for Egypt's tiny Catholic community and meet with its priests and seminarians before returning to Rome.

    More >>

    Pope Francis will celebrate Mass for Egypt's tiny Catholic community and meet with its priests and seminarians before returning to Rome.

    More >>
  • N. Korean missile test fails hours after UN meeting on nukes

    N. Korean missile test fails hours after UN meeting on nukes

    Saturday, April 29 2017 5:30 AM EDT2017-04-29 09:30:35 GMT
    Saturday, April 29 2017 5:30 AM EDT2017-04-29 09:30:35 GMT

    A North Korean mid-range ballistic missile test-fire apparently failed Saturday, South Korea and the United States said, the third such flop just this month but a clear message of defiance as a U.S. supercarrier conducts tests in nearby waters.

    More >>

    A North Korean mid-range ballistic missile test-fire apparently failed Saturday, South Korea and the United States said, the third such flop just this month but a clear message of defiance as a U.S. supercarrier conducts tests in nearby waters.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly