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Richland County Jail fails state inspection, citing unsafe and unsanitary conditions

21 Dec 2023, Jail News, by

A state inspection exposes problems at Richland County Jail in South Carolina and raises concerns for inmate well-being.

Richland County Jail fails state inspection, citing unsafe and unsanitary conditions - Inmate Lookup

A state inspection of the Richland County jail, a jail in South Carolina that is under investigation by federal authorities, found it to be unsafe and unsanitary.

Upon reviewing the Richland County jail, the South Carolina Department of Corrections discovered a number of issues, including the absence of documented plans for the evacuation of prisoners in the event of a fire, prisoners assigned to perform head counts, keys for cells and exits left in an unlocked desk drawer in a juvenile wing, and the fact that clean clothes were only provided to inmates once a week.

Several concerns were specifically identified in units housing women, such as urinals in one unit allowing a male inmate to access the female unit through the ceiling. Female inmates were also found to be deprived of basic necessities like soap, toothbrushes, pads, and tampons.

Additionally, according to the previous month’s state prison officials’ report, a cell designated for women at risk lacked constant monitoring measures, violating rules by housing women awaiting trial alongside those already convicted.

The inspectors also found the Richland County jail faces challenges related to insufficient staffing for inmate supervision, a lack of detailed space availability for housing prisoners, and physical infrastructure issues like missing shower tiles and ceilings, along with bathrooms lacking proper lighting.

In accordance with South Carolina law, the jail has a 90-day period to outline corrective actions and solutions following the receipt of the report. While closure remains a possibility, accommodating over 700 inmates elsewhere presents a major challenge.

Previous inspections had also highlighted problems at the Richland County Jail, and the November report acknowledged some ongoing efforts to address these issues.

In a statement, the county claimed that the inspection report had been released to the press before it was ever received by the county.

Richland County Administration and County Council will dedicate ample time to thoroughly reviewing the report once they receive it. The county wrote that it remains committed to collaborating with SCDC to enhance conditions at the detention center, prioritizing the safety and security of prisoners and staff members.

The U.S. Justice Department declared in November that it was looking into a number of matters at the jail, including the killing of an inmate who was beaten to death by five attackers while confined in cells with unsecured doors.

Federal inspectors discovered that since February 2022, there have been at least six deaths at the facility. According to them, there have also been two escapes, one riot, sixteen verified allegations of stabbings or assaults, and two suspected rapes in the jail recently.

The United States Justice Department is also looking into the Charleston County jail, where two jail staff members repeatedly shocked a mentally ill Black man until he stopped breathing by kneeling on his back.



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