My Take: Prison reform in South Carolina has to happen
A sign sits outside the Lee Correctional Institution on Monday, April 16, 2018, in Bishopville, S.C. Multiple inmates were killed and others seriously injured amid fighting between prisoners inside the maximum security prison in SC.(AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -
Over the past two weeks, the issue of conditions at Department Of Corrections prisons has exploded. On the night of April 15, a riot erupted at Lee Correctional Institution.
By the time things were back under control, seven inmates were dead and another 22 were injured. It was the deadliest U.S. prison riot in the last quarter century. Since the incident, we here at WIS have received dozens of calls from inmates and their families.
We’ve also heard from state leaders, DOC officials and even former corrections officers. While all agree it was a tragic incident, the blame is being pointed in many directions.
As you’ve heard, it’s a complicated issue with no easy answers. But the action is being taken.
The shortage of Corrections Officers has long been an issue. Despite recruitment efforts to increase the number of officers - including increasing pay and incentives - there are still hundreds of vacancies. DOC officials vow to continue recruiting efforts.
Efforts to restrict contraband like cell phones is another point of contention between prison officials. In recent days, SCDC has joined with a company to install equipment inside Lee Correctional to block unauthorized cell phone usage inside the prison.
And now, there’s word of multiple corrections employees being tied to bribery for bringing contraband into prisons. Several state legislators have also asked to visit conditions inside Lee Correctional. That visit is set to happen soon.
Sentencing reform is another issue before our state leaders. A bill being considered would allow more good behavior credits and lessen the time non-violent offenders must serve on their sentence.
So where does it all lead? It’s too early to say yet. But the action is being taken on multiple fronts. That’s at least a start. The task now is to hold officials accountable to finish the job. We will also dig deeper into this issue.
Meanwhile, we will continue to closely watch what develops over the weeks and months ahead and bring you continuing updates on an issue important to so many.