DJJ investigative incident reports include allegations June “mob” violence was “set up” by staff
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Department of Juvenile Justice records include allegations by DJJ youth that a fight which left two juveniles hospitalized (one overnight) in June was “set up” by DJJ security.
The documents also include the report of one DJJ employee who alleged hearing a juvenile corrections officer tell a juvenile how “she will allow for the youth to fight,” and told WIS the conversation happened before “the event” took place.
The DJJ’s spokesperson told WIS one employee was fired as a result of the incident and another is no longer with the department.
A department statement laid out how the incident led to security policy changes and the DJJ is undergoing infrastructure improvements.
WIS used the Freedom of Information act to obtain the internal documents which show the department referred to the situation as an “assault on juvenile by mob,” with 11 youth participating.
The DJJ confirmed there are pending family court cases related to the incident.
In the aftermath of the June 2, 2022 incident, the DJJ described it as a “group disturbance,” which was brought under control after 15 minutes.
The department initially reported no “major” injuries to the youth, but later said one youth suffered a concussion and needed to stay at the hospital overnight.
At the time of the incident, State Senator Katrina Shealy (R-Lexington Co.) reported being told by DJJ Director Eden Hendrick a second juvenile needed staples for a head injury.
The department reported no staff were injured and there was no property damage.
Racial Justice Network National President Dr. Candace Brewer organized a news conference with the family of the youth with the concussion and confirmed that youth’s name is Divine Johnson.
Both Brewer and a DJJ employee confirmed to WIS Divine Johnson was the juvenile who was hospitalized overnight.
Traditionally, WIS does not name juveniles in its reporting. However, it is naming Johnson because of his family’s prior public statements.
Johnson’s family provided WIS with graphic pictures of his injuries.
WARNING: The following images contain graphic content.
The DJJ documents include statements of DJJ employees and contract staffers holding various positions within the Broad River Road Complex.
The employees described their perspectives of the events leading up to and including the assault at the complex’s Holly Unit.
The DJJ requested SLED investigate the incident, and the DJJ documents show SLED was investigating on June 5. WIS has also submitted a FOIA request for SLED’s documents as well.
SLED has not produced those documents as of this publication and the agency’s spokesperson said the agency could not provide an interview on an ongoing investigation.
All 24 statements were submitted the day of the incident (June 2) or in the days following (through June 7).
The reports include the time/date of the event being described (whether it’s the assault or what led up to it), as well as the time/date the reports were submitted.
The reports are partially redacted, with the names of the youth involved and limited narrative/demographic information blacked out.
To the best of its ability, WIS has re-ordered the DJJ reports in this story to reflect the DJJ staff’s accounting of events in chronological order.
There are four reports where time stamps and the events described appear to conflict, and in this story they are separated into their own section.
Here are all the reports in WIS’ possession:
Here is a map of the Maple Dorm which neighbors the Holly unit. DJJ spokesperson Joe Cashion confirmed the Holly Unit has a similar lay out, which is featured in the broadcast version of this story.
Additionally, a map of the full Broad River Road Complex is attached.
The lead up to the hospitalizations (June 2, 2022 2:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.)
Shaquinta Gamble report – 2:30 a.m. on June 2, 2022
Behavior Intervention Team Manager Shaquinta Gamble reports at 2:30 a.m. she was asked by a youth about whether a second youth was on her caseload.
She wrote that the youth asking the question insinuated he was going to fight a youth.
Gamble directly asked if he intended to fight a youth, and was told no.
Johnasten Cooper report #1 – 5:30 a.m. on June 2, 2022
Insiders Coordinator Johnasten Cooper reported that at 5:30 a.m., he was informed of a possible “youth on youth assault.”
He wrote two youths were angry that a third youth did not join in a “group assault.”
Cooper wrote one youth made verbal threats about another youth. Cooper’s report states he informed the unit security that a youth should be placed in protective custody.
“The security staff present confirmed with youth everything would be okay.”
Nyasia Franklin report #1 – 1:40 p.m. on June 2, 2022
Behavior Interventionist Nyasia Franklin reported that at 1:40 p.m. she responded to an assistance call at Holly Unit.
She wrote she saw several youth from the A and C pods in the courtyard, and they appeared to have just finished fighting.
She wrote she attempted to direct a youth back to his pod and encouraged other youth to go back to their assigned areas.
She wrote Behavior Intervention Specialist Taylor Bankhead held the C Pod door open for the C Pod youth to re-enter, but the A Pod youth followed behind them, running toward a specific room in the pod.
Franklin wrote staff intervened, were able to get them out, and contain the C pod youth “without incident.”
Amanda Wright report – 1:45 p.m. on June 2, 2022
Security Guard Amanda Wright wrote she was assigned to the Holly unit control room.
At 1:45 p.m., she observed Juvenile Corrections Officer Joshua Heriott-Franklin walk towards the C Pod door and pressed the button to enter.
She wrote she unlocked the door from within the control room and the C Pod juveniles pushed the door open, running into the courtyard where the A pod youth were waiting for their ride to go to the nearby gym.
She wrote two juveniles began assaulting each other with fists.
Wright wrote Juvenile Corrections Officers Tierra Martino, LaToyia Johnson and Heriott-Franklin gave the juveniles “several directives” to stop fighting, but the fight continued.
She wrote assistance was called and “all available staff” entered the unit and placed the juveniles in the correct pods.
Joshua Heriott-Franklin report – 1:45 p.m. on June 2, 2022
Heriott-Franklin wrote that at approximately 1:45 p.m., he walked around each pod to tell the youth he was leaving early.
“As I approached the C Pod front door, it was unlocked by control staff. All the juveniles on C Pod proceeded to run out the pod into the courtyard where A Pod was.”
He wrote two juveniles started throwing fists at each other. He gave directives for them to stop, assistance was called, and the situation cleared.
Nyasia Franklin report #2 – 1:45 p.m. on June 2, 2022
Franklin wrote at 1:45 p.m. there was a “group disturbance” at the Holly Unit.
She wrote that afterwards, she and other Behavior Interventionists were sitting in the nearby gym with the A pod youth when they were told the incident was not over.
She wrote they were told two youth will be assaulted.
Franklin wrote she later went to counsel a youth and was told there was a phone taken from A Pod youth by C pod youth.
It’s unclear if there is any relation between Nyasia Franklin and Joshua Heriott-Franklin.
Asia Williams report – 2:45 p.m. on June 2, 2022
At 2:45 p.m., a report submitted by Program Assistant Asia Williams outlined a juvenile involved in the earlier fight described by Wright and Heriott-Franklin refused medical treatment.
Johnasten Cooper report #2 – 4 p.m. on June 2, 2022
Cooper wrote at 4 p.m., he responded to an assistance call for youth fighting.
He wrote he assisted in providing verbal commands to the youth not involved in the fight to return to their pods.
Cooper wrote he saw several youths throw fists at each other in C Pod.
He wrote he continued to direct youth to the appropriate pods.
“When only assigned youth were present in Holly C Pod I provided assistance in keeping youth on the pod by attempting to pull the door shut and blocked youth attempting to exit.”
The second incident (June 2, 2022 5:35 p.m.- 5:45 p.m.)
Latoyia Johnson report – 5:35 p.m. on June 2, 2022
Juvenile Correctional Officer Latoyia Johnson reported that at 5:35 p.m. he was with Martino, Captain Eric Favor and Lt. Clarence Adamson to pass out dinner to the C Pod.
He wrote Favor opened C Pod with his keys and told a juvenile to exit the pod so they could talk.
Johnson wrote while he was talking to the juvenile “he walked away and went to the door of A pod,” where Johnson saw youths standing on the opposite side of the door.
It’s unclear if the “he” Johnson refers to is the youth or Favor walking towards the door.
“While continuing to pass out trays I heard a loud noise,” writing he turned his head and saw two juveniles punching each other in the face.
He said he gave several orders for the youths to stop fighting, “but at that time all pods were open and no longer secured.”
He wrote he gave several orders to the youths to return to their pods.
Tierra Martino report – 5:45 p.m. on June 2, 2022
Martino reported at 5:45 p.m. she and Latoyia Johnson were preparing for a “meal pass.”
She wrote she secured all the doors and contacted the control room to ensure they were in fact secure.
Martino wrote she was called to the control room to speak with Favor about the recreation of the Holly C-Pod.
She wrote that she told him his presence would be helpful given tensions were high from an event earlier in the day.
She wrote Favor and Adamson helped with meal pass.
Martino wrote she and Johnson had completed A and B pods but a youth was angry, and said “someone is going to get assaulted,” referring to staff.
She wrote both her and Johnson felt threatened and allowed Favor and Adamson to deliver the meals to the C-Pod.
Martino reported Favor used his master key to open C-Pod, saying he needed to speak with a juvenile. She described it as an “undisclosed conversation.”
It’s unclear from the report what that conversation entailed.
She wrote at that time A-Pod’s door was kicked open by a juvenile she could not identify.
Portions of the report were redacted, but Martino reported two juveniles had made it into the courtyard. She wrote that, as Adamson attempted to secure C Pod’s door, juveniles pushed past him and ran out.
She wrote then the A Pod youths ran out also.
Martino wrote she saw two youths throwing punches and were given multiple orders to stop.
She wrote she “was given a directive from Capt. Favor to allow the juveniles to fight until assistance arrived.”
Martino wrote one juvenile fell to the ground, and two other juveniles proceeded to stomp down juvenile’s head with JROTC combat boots.
She wrote she saw a youth hit another youth with a sock tied to a lock.
Martino wrote several youths were stomping one youth.
She wrote she heard a juvenile issue the challenge “who else wants to fight?” and she watched several others fight.
Martino reported assistance arrived “a few moments later” and OC spray was used to break up the fight.
She wrote two juveniles were sent to the infirmary and then ultimately to different hospitals. Additionally, SLED agents arrived.
Eric Favor report – 5:45 p.m. on June 2, 2022
Favor wrote at roughly 5:30 he was called to the Holly unit by Martino, who told him she and Johnson were not comfortable feeding C Pod because a youth threatened to assault staff over C pod’s access to the game room.
He reported he and Adamson were told Pods A and B were fed and secured.
Favor wrote he went to C Pod and called for the youth who made the threat, to ask why he was threatening staff.
Favor reported the youth came out, but immediately walked toward A Pod, and began arguing with someone at the A Pod door.
“Moments later A-pod door was pushed open and juvenile (redacted) and juvenile (redacted) began fighting. The fight ended and then resumed at C-pod door.”
“At this time, B-pod door opened as well as C-pod and multiple juveniles began fighting.”
Favor reported two juveniles began assaulting a third juvenile.
He wrote he was able to remove “a weapon” from a youth “but not before he was able to strike” a juvenile in the head and face “several times.”
Favor wrote he got a juvenile “safely” out of the unit and returned to the courtyard to assist with removing another juvenile who had been “severely assaulted” and “seemingly (redacted) for a period of time.”
Jade Scarborough report – 5:45 p.m. on June 2, 2022
Allied Universal Security Officer Jade Scarborough reported being assigned to the Holly control room on June 2.
Scarborough reported seeing Martino and Johnson secure all pod doors after serving dinner.
She reported double checking all pod entrance doors on the control panel and all were secure.
Favor and Adamson entered the unit at 5:34 p.m. to help, and all four approached C Pod.
Scarborough reported unlocking the Pod C’s door when the button was pushed for entry. A youth exited to speak with Favor.
She then wrote:
“I observed A Pod force their pod door to open,” and several youth “ran out the unit towards pod C.”
She reported a B Pod juvenile was in A Pod, but “per Captain Favor” the juvenile was allowed in A Pod.
She reported several C Pod youth also ran out of the unit, and “all juveniles listed above began to fight with closed fist.”
She wrote a juvenile re-entered C pod for a broken broom stick and began to strike other youth with the broom stick.
She also reported seeing youth with locks in socks.
Scaborough wrote she saw a juvenile “laying face down on the courtyard being stomped” by a juvenile and being struck by multiple juveniles with locks in socks.
She wrote assistance was called.
They were given multiple orders to stop, but they didn’t comply.
Scarborough wrote multiple DJJ personnel did arrive to provide assistance.
Albert Bates report – 5:36 p.m. on June 2, 2022
Public Safety Officer Albert Bates wrote he was dispatched to the Holly unit due to youths fighting and arrived at 5:36 p.m.
He wrote he entered the building at 5:37 p.m. and saw multiple security staff were “standing on the side of the courtyard nearest the exit door while the youth involved engaged on the other side.”
Bates wrote he initially saw two juveniles fighting, but it escalated 7 to 10 youths fighting and directed them to stop. When they didn’t he used “chemical munitions” to stop them.
He wrote he saw broken mop handles, socks with objects inside, and sticks. He wrote that the majority dispersed after multiple “short bursts of chemical munitions.”
He wrote by 5:47 p.m. all three pods in Holly were deemed under control.
Bates wrote the medical team was contacted but the security staff was told “that no one could come to medical at that time.”
One youth was in the infirmary and Bates described his injuries “as a priority” requiring EMS assistance.
He wrote the youth exposed to the OC spray were decontaminated at the nearest water station, and SLED agents assisted in putting the youth involved in “mechanical restraints.”
Bates wrote the youth were transported to the lock up unit. He reported using 1.4 ounces of OC spray.
Nyasia Franklin report #3 – 5:38 p.m. on June 2, 2022
Franklin wrote she responded to an assistance call at the Holly Unit around 5:30 p.m.
She wrote she arrived and saw Behavior Interventionist Taylor Bankhead and a youth. The report is unclear, as the following line is heavily redacted.
Franklin wrote she told Bankhead to take a youth to the infirmary immediately.
She wrote that she proceeded to walk towards the Holly unit when she saw Martino and another female officer standing “in the vestibule” with several youths.
Franklin wrote that while waiting to enter Holly, she saw two youths exchange words then fists in the torso area.
The youth stopped after receiving verbal commands to do so.
She wrote she saw a youth being “carried through the front of Holly into a van.” She referenced the youth’s face, but the description is redacted.
Franklin reported she asked a youth how the situation happened.
A youth informed Franklin they were receiving their dinner when Captain Favor called a youth out to talk to him.
She wrote when the youth exited the pod, A Pod’s door “popped” open and a youth began punching a different youth.
The youth alleged staff “told everybody to back up and let (redacted) and (redacted) fight.”
Franklin then wrote members of A Pod began hitting a youth. A youth was hit several times with a weapon in the face.
“Youth (redacted) informed that he did not feels safe because he believed that staff set the fight up. Both youth were advised to write grievances.”
Joseph Smith report – 5:42 p.m. on June 2, 2022
Telecommunications Operator Joseph Smith reported that at 5:42 p.m. multiple youth were involved in the fight in the Holly courtyard.
He wrote assistance was requested and Bates responded.
Smith wrote Bates attempted to deescalate the situation but ultimately had to deploy munitions, successfully diffusing the situation.
Kami Gracey report – 5:45 p.m. on June 2, 2022
Juvenile and Family Relations Coordinator Kami Gracey received the following allegation from a youth, and reported it to the Office of the Inspector General:
“I was locked in the vestibule and beaten with a metal shower head and a lock in a sock, while staff were around. It made news headlines the next morning.”
RELATED STORY | Two DJJ youth hospitalized after group disturbance
The aftermath (June 2, 2022 5:35 p.m. – June 7, 2022 12:05 p.m.)
Davida Onley report – 5:35 p.m. on June 2, 2022
Registered Nurse Davida Onley reported a youth was transported by EMS to Prisma Parkridge from the infirmary.
Davida Onley report #2 – 5:56 p.m. on June 2, 2022
Onley reported EMS was called immediately to transport a youth. That youth was sent to Prisma Richland for ER evaluation and was reported to be stayed overnight.
Roberta Williams report – 8 a.m. on June 7, 2022
Sgt. Roberta Williams reported at 8 a.m. on June 7, a youth told her “that he felt like he was set up by Captain Favor to get beating up in the vestibule” on June 2.
The youth said “the next time that he see Captain Favor he will assault him.”
Eric Favor report #2 - 12:05 p.m. on June 7, 2022
At 12:05 p.m. on June 7, Favor reported being called by a nurse asking if he could bring a youth to the infirmary.
He met Williams, who suggested Favor not take the youth to the infirmary.
He wrote she elaborated by saying the youth had threatened him and believed Favor had arranged the incident which resulted in the youth being assaulted on June 2.
Favor reported he was told by Lt. Precious Kirkland on June 6 that he may be a target, but Kirkland didn’t elaborate.
Favor wrote he reported the information and told his superiors he did not feel comfortable in C Pod due to the tension over the situation.
“I further advised Mr. [Crayman] Harvey and Mr. [Jermaine] Gordon that I do have several concerns regarding possible staff contribution to the original assault on 06/02/2022 as well as possible contribution to the continuing tension in the unit,”
It’s unclear if he was referencing the violence earlier on June 2 or the assault which resulted in the hospitalizations.
He wrote that Harvey told him a peer mediation between Holly juveniles will be scheduled and they’d also attempt to “resolve the notion of a hit on myself or other staff.”
Reports with potentially conflicting times or testimony:
WIS identified four reports which appear to conflict with their time stamps.
Taylor Bankhead report – 6:47 p.m. on June 2, 2022
Bankhead reported responding to the Holly unit for an assistance call on June 6, an impossibility if the report was submitted on June 2.
She wrote she opened the Holly front door but needed to suddenly close the door because three youth had entered the vestibule.
Bankhead reported once she was able to enter the area, she saw youth run through the courtyard, youth hitting other youth with an object in a white sock and youth punching youth.
She wrote she attempted to tell youth to stop from behind the closed door but they refused.
Bankhead wrote she stayed behind the closed door for her safety and to “help keep the incident contained.”
She reported a youth with a sock weapon did ultimately comply with orders and gave the sock to Favor. Once she saw the weapon out of the youth’s hand, she told Favor to open the door.
She wrote she found a youth balled up in a corner and took that youth to the infirmary.
The youth made complaints in the vehicle which are redacted. Bankhead told the youth to stay until they reached the infirmary.
The youth refused to comply and appeared to do something which is redacted.
Ana Jirves report – 1:31 p.m. on June 3, 2022
Behavioral Intervention Specialist Ana Jirves cited her report as covering an event at 1:31 p.m. on June 3, 2022.
However, her report begins by stating on or around 3 p.m., suggesting the report would be from June 2.
If it were on June 2, that would put the report just hours before the violence which resulted in the hospitalizations.
In a phone conversation with WIS, Jirves said the interaction happened before “the event,” confirming her report reflects events which happened earlier in the afternoon. She initially expressed interest in an interview, but ultimately declined.
In her report, Jirves wrote she was “in the field on the side of the Gym.”
She wrote she had a brief interaction with a youth, who said he was “going to place a toe tag” on another juvenile.
Jirves wrote that she told the youth there is more to life than killing and prison.
She then wrote he overheard a conversation between a youth and Martino.
“Juvenile (redacted) began to tell Officer Martino that he wants to take the biggest one down in Holly. (Redacted) stated he want to fight Juvenile (redacted). B.I. Jirves heard Ofc. Martino state how she will
allow for the youth to fight, but she should wait until Monday because they will find out or state that she allowed for this fight to take place. I stood in disbelief for the conversation I heard.”
She wrote after the conversation she told Favor about what the juveniles were talking about in the yard. Favor responded by stating:
“You know I was assaulted,” she responded by saying she was sorry to hear that and told him the youth needed to be watched because the youth said the fighting isn’t over.
Johnasten Cooper report #3 – 5:30 a.m. on June 2, 2022
The timestamp on Cooper’s report is 5:30 a.m. on June 2, 2022, the morning before the violence which led to the hospitalizations. His report appears to reflect testimony from after the incident.
Cooper wrote he was providing verbal council to a youth after a group assault on another youth.
He reported the juvenile believed “several security set up the group assault,” sharing what his view of what had transpired.
Cooper wrote the youth also indicated “nothing was done to protect” a youth during the assault.
Stanislas Goutier report – 5:30 a.m. on June 2, 2022
Psychology Human Service Coordinator Stanislas Goutier’s report is timestamped for 5:30 the morning June 2, which was a Thursday.
He begins the report by stating at 3:15 p.m. he was visiting a youth in Laurel dorm when a juvenile told him “Mr. Stan, staff set us up,” to which he responded by asking the youth what happened on Thursday evening.
The youth told him Favor called a youth out but he’s not sure why. Favor told the juvenile to stand by the door and that was when another juvenile came out and the fighting began.
He wrote the juvenile told him:
“Captain Favor gestured with his hand to let them fight and did not try to break the fight either.”
He wrote a second juvenile reported a similar story, raising questions about why the juveniles in A Pod appeared ready to fight with mop sticks, a broken broom and weapons in socks. He reported the juvenile told him no staff intervened.
With the names of juveniles redacted, it’s unclear how many youth Stanislas referenced in the report, but the allegations against Favor, a lack of staff intervention and A Pod’s alleged preparedness were echoed.
He wrote a youth told him he tried to help a different youth, and reiterated staff did not try to stop the fight.
He wrote a different juvenile echoed the allegation the A Pod youth appeared ready for the incident.
He reported that youth told him “I went to the hospital bloody.”
Insight from a former control room officer
Attempts to contact Amanda Wright, LaToyia Johnson and Tierra Martino were unsuccessful.
Favor declined an interview request.
Jade Scarborough agreed to a phone interview and a subsequent camera interview, but later informed WIS she was unavailable for the latter.
Scarborough worked for Allied Security, the firm that was brought into the Broad River Road Complex to help alleviate the staffing shortage.
Allied did not return a request for comment.
She said she could not enter the unit itself, but operated in its control room.
Scarborough said her responsibility was to make sure the pod doors were showing up as secured on her computer screen and to open the doors when requested by the DJJ staff in the unit.
She said some officers had keys to open the doors on their own.
Scarborough said it was possible for a door to appear as “secure” on her computer screen but not be locked.
“Correct, if the kids have something stuck in the door, then it’s not secure in reality. It may look secured on my screen, but it’s not really secure.”
After the interview, Scarborough did not respond to WIS’ question on if she informed either Allied or DJJ about the faulty doors.
During the interview, she said the door system failure was not a common occurrence.
“It would only really happen if they wanted to fight each other, and they wanted to be sure they would get to wherever they could get to. That would mainly be the only time that the juveniles would mess with the locks on the doors,” she said.
Scarborough told WIS proper procedure is only one pod door is allowed to be open at a time. She explained this is a safety precaution because juveniles are split into pods based off their behavior and known conflicts.
Scarborough reiterated that on June 2, there was a known conflict between “two guys” in A Pod and C Pod.
She said at the time of the assault, the doors appeared locked on her screen.
She said Favor pulled out Divine Johnson to speak with him. She said “a captain” used a key to open the C Pod door.
Captain Eric Favor is the only Captain referenced in her DJJ report.
The use of the key to unlock the door conflicted with her written report, where she wrote she unlocked the C pod door “when the button was pushed for entry” and the juvenile exited to talk with Favor.
When contacted about this conflict, she confirmed Favor opened the door with a key.
“That’s when the guys on the A Pod, they kicked the door open,” she said.
Scarborough said Johnson and another youth started fighting, and the juveniles in A Pod came out with weapons, including locks and socks.
“They just jumped Johnson, that’s when the guys from the other pod they tried to come out there and help Johnson, it was just a big disaster,” she said.
She said only the A Pod and C Pod doors were open.
WIS asked if there were any procedure to keep the juveniles in the pod when a door to the pod is opened.
She described the pods as youth living in “cubbies” where there is a common space, but the personal spaces for the youth are not separated.
Scarborough described Johnson as bleeding and unconscious when he was removed from the unit
WIS asked her about her thoughts on the allegations staff may have facilitated the fight.
“With them knowing all that week, the stuff that was going on, and that those juveniles wanted to fight each other, I think that they should have been more security minded,” she said.
Scarborough said the first juvenile Johnson ended up fighting was in the wrong pod (A Pod) when he should have been in B Pod. She echoed her report, saying “the captain” allowed the juvenile in the wrong pod.
WIS asked how about allegations staff didn’t intervene in the fight.
She said officers are instructed to give verbal commands and can make decisions for self-preservation if they feel their life is in danger.
“As an officer it is your job to at least attempt to intervene. I can say the two female officers they did give them verbal directives to stop, the kids did not stop. When it became too much and too many weapons were being used, that’s when the officers ran. However the captain that was in charge (Favor), he just basically said to let them fight,” she said.
She said she isn’t sure how the DJJ handled the situation in the aftermath, because she was an Allied employee.
She said she left the Allied on August 8.
“I felt like the officers [at DJJ] don’t really have really any control over the juveniles, I feel as though they’re kind of afraid of them,” she said.
Public scrutiny of the incident
Divine Johnson’s loved one called a news conference with the Brewer and leaders with the Racial Justice Network on June 6 to express their concerns about the incident.
The family provided the photos of the injuries they claim Johnson sustained on June 2.
At the news conference, they expressed grief and anger at Johnson’s condition and the DJJ’s conduct.
Johnson’s mother, Erica Johnson, was visibly upset as she addressed the journalists in attendance.
“[Divine] can’t even look at me because he was so unconscious. I just feel that he doesn’t deserve that, despite how bad of a child he was, he doesn’t deserve to get beat the way that he did,” she said.
Divine’s grandmother, Anna Johnson, echoed Erica’s grief.
“I really looked at this picture and I asked God, I asked God, why? Why would this happen to him? He has great talent and he was progressing tremendously, and he said I’m not coming home, I’m going to go into the military and take of my mother, now we’re just praying and hope that he’s okay,” she said.
Divine’s father, Paul Grant said those responsible for the conditions which led to the incident.
It’s unclear what her relationship to Divine is, but Goddess Johnson first raised questions about what transpired.
“We need justice. We need answers. They’re saying that the fight broke out over a phone. How did the phone get back there? How did the weapons get involved? Where was the staff? We need answers,” she said.
Isis Johnson criticized staff inaction. Her relationship to Divine is also unclear.
“How long did y’all get to beat him like this? How did y’all let this happen?” she said.
WIS requested an interview with Director Eden Hendrick. Department spokesperson Joe Cashion told WIS the department would not be able to do an on-camera interview because of “criminal proceedings pending,” but did offer to answer questions via email.
On Aug. 30, WIS sent Cashion a list of 34 questions (not including follow-ups). They involved how the situation transpired and what the DJJ knows about the allegations made by youth and staff about the alleged “set up.”
On Sept. 9, Cashion sent WIS this statement from Hendrick:
Because of on-going investigations by both SLED and SCDJJ, SCDJJ cannot comment or answer specific questions about the June 2, 2022 incident. The Department is continuing to make changes, adjustments and improvements in staffing, leadership, and training along with making numerous necessary security upgrades to the buildings and facilities.
Cashion confirmed the department fired Favor and Martino “no longer works here.”.
WIS has identified no criminal or civil cases related involving Favor or Martino in Richland County or federal courts.
He sent a statement outlining how infrastructure improvements are being made to the Broad River Complex, but those did not include changes to the Holly Unit pod doors.
In an email he said:
Replacing those entry pod doors are not included in the door front project. However, we are having all doors and locking mechanisms on the pods assessed and if recommended to replace we will replace every door if necessary to ensure the safety and security of the youth and staff.
Cashion sent an additional statement on Sept. 13, attributed to Hendrick:
SCDJJ is at the beginning of a long journey to transition from a corrections-based juvenile justice model to a more contemporary and effective rehabilitative model. The agency must change its culture to value relationships and must hold employees accountable for actions that do not represent the values of the SCDJJ. As far as employees specifically mentioned, two of those officers are no longer employed at the agency. Over the course of the summer, there have also been multiple changes in the leadership staff within the Division of Security and Operations.
Concerning the June 2 incident, SLED was contacted immediately and arrived on scene that night to begin the criminal investigation. There are currently pending family court cases related to this incident and the agency is not at liberty to answer questions related to pending cases.
The Division of Security and Operations issued a memo on June 3rd (see attached) outlining a corrective action plan. DJJ is constantly assessing the training needs of staff and is in the process of working with numerous national consultants to revamp many programs, service delivery mechanisms and training.
Moreover, SCDJJ recognizes that changes need to be made to existing facilities to have the safest, most secure environment possible. As a result, DJJ began a capital improvement project to add door fronts to the four open bay pods on the Broad River Road Complex. Construction is slated to begin later this fall and the plans call for each building to be outfitted in 3-4 months, with a final completion date of November 2023. This more secure environment will support staff safety and allow us to function more efficiently as a secure facility. This is only one of numerous capital improvement projects SCDJJ is planning that will improve staff and youth safety and create a more rehabilitative environment.
Additionally, many of your questions are directly related to SCDJJ’s security operations. The release of such information, such as the security system and procedures used at SCDJJ facilities, would compromise the security of the agency’s facilities and the safety of both staff and the youth. Due to continued staffing issues, SCDJJ is still contracting with Allied Security to cover security posts that do not have direct interaction with youth, which includes the front gate and control rooms.
Assault and Battery by Mob 1st, 2nd, 3rd Degree is the statutory criminal offense of a group of 2 more or persons assembled for the premediated purpose and intent to commit an act of violence that results in bodily injury. When talking to media we try to use terms most people are familiar. This was a group disturbance.
(The memo referred to is embedded below. It was sent by Deputy Director Mack McGhee to Hendrick and her chief of staff.)
It outlined the following how the Division of Security and Operations would conduct:
• A Full & Comprehensive Video Review of Holly Incident
• Conduct Daily Searches of all Units & Rooms
• Review the Control Room & Pod Door Locking Mechanisms
• Initiate Periodic Facility Wide Shakedowns to recover contraband
• Remove immediately all Mops, Brooms, & ROTC Combat Boots
• Ensure all Pod Doors are fully functional and not compromised by residents
• Brief all Staff on Proper Search Procedure (Searching with Respect for Youth Property)
• Initiate Periodic Video Review of Search Process Weekly
• Develop and Train staff on Positive Youth Engagement/Positive Youth Development
• Hold Staff Accountable for any & all policy violations related to incident
• Management By Walking Around/Inspect What You Expect
Governor Henry McMaster’s office sent a statement reading:
Director Hendrick has a clear plan for enhancing the infrastructure, staff morale, and training at SCDJJ – all of which will help improve the safety of the environment for officers and the youth in the agency’s care, and the agency has made great strides during her short tenure at the helm. But we’ve always known that change takes time. Importantly, we cannot expect those reforms alone to be the only answer – that’s why Governor McMaster is focusing on addressing the mental health crisis among our young people by improving and expanding access to mental health services for those South Carolinians before they even come into SCDJJ’s custody.
The governor appointed Hendrick, her predecessor, and directed SLED and the Department of Administration to assist the DJJ last summer.
The Department of Juvenile Justice has a troubled and well-documented history of issues with the conditions for juveniles and staff.
RELATED STORIES | Juveniles at DJJ break into building, climb over razor wire to roof
The department recently settled a lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Justice over conditions at the Broad River Road Complex. The DOJ has not yet responded to a request for comment on the status of that agreement
As of this publication, WIS has not found any Richland County or federal court cases involving the DJJ tied to the June 2 incident.
A current DJJ employee tells WIS Divine Johnson is “sequestered” at the Laurel Unit, the lock up unit.
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