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SC Prison Abuse

For those of you who missed the news that our prison system sometimes resembles the one at Abu Ghraib, at least for mentally ill prisoners, then you should read this article in The Atlantic. It was published within days of a SC court ruling against the SC Dept. of Corrections citing these problems.

From the article:

Those are the antiseptic words judges often use to describe unconstitutional conditions. What do they mean? They mean that one mentally ill inmate, James Wilson, was kept in solitary confinement for at least 2,491 consecutive days. It means that an intellectually disabled (and schizophrenic) man named Jerome Laudman was abused and neglected, and then left to rot in his own feces and vomit, until he died of a heart attack. It means that force was used 81 times on a severely mentally ill inmate named James Howard. It means that some mentally ill inmates were restrained at length in what they called a “crucifix position.”

It means some mentally ill prisoners were “routinely placed” naked “in shower stalls, ‘rec cages’, interview booths, and holding cells for hours and even days at a time.” It means that suicidal prisoners who were supposed to be receiving anti-psychotic medication were not receiving them. No surprise, the judge wrote, since SCDC’s “computer system cannot retrieve the names or numbers of all inmates referred” for mental health treatment, “the number of inmates who have made serious suicide attempts; or the number of inmates whose psychotropic medications have expired without being timely renewed.”

If you think the article seems biased, then read the actual court ruling here.

I have always taken a strong stance against crime. However, I do believe that prisons should adhere to the rule of law just like the rest of society.

The SCDC has decided to appeal the ruling rather than fix the problems. I, along with several members of the Greenville Delegation, have signed a petition asking for the SCDC not to appeal. It should be noted that the petition was put together by Dr. Jim Hayes out at the Taylors Free Medical Clinic. He’s a good man.

Dr. Hayes delivered the petition to Gov. Haley’s office this week. She claims that the problems have been corrected. We shall see.