South Carolina Prison System Issues Causing 7 dead 17 injured - April 2018

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On Sunday April 15, 2018 there was a riot in South Carolina's Lee Correctional Institute just outside of Columbia, SC. Seven inmates were brutally murdered and 17 inmates seriously injured due to fights that broke out in three different dorms at the prison facility. The Director Bryan P. Stirling stated in a news conference "this was due to cell phones in the prison system." That's hardly the case. The cell phones are bringing the wrong doing and poor conditions in the South Carolina prisons to light. Clearly showing the world what really goes on behind South Carolina Department of Corrections barbed wire and razor wire fences. Cell phones are showing the dirty truth. The main issue is not cell phones but yet gangs fighting over territory. If an inmate gets in an altercation with another inmate or is caught with contraband they are immediately shipped to another prison in South Carolina. In some instances they are then housed with other inmates who are in an opposing gang which will retaliate causing serious bodily harm, even death upon an inmate. 

 That isn't even the half of it. That doesn't include inmates being "locked down" in their cells or dorms for days, weeks and months on end. There have been instances of inmates not being fed or being allowed to bathe for days even weeks. The conditions inmates have to live in at times are deemed inhumane. There was an issue on several occasions at a South Carolina Prison where toilets were running over feces and urine floating around 2 to 3 inches deep in cells. The inmates were on lock down and weren't allowed out of their cells to clean up the mess. In fact they were left in those conditions for days.

There are so many other situations that inmates have to deal with on a day to day basis. Things that we take for granted like showering, sleeping and eating. Could you go days or weeks with out a shower? Imagine not being able to sleep because you fear for your life. That if you fall asleep you may be harmed. Imagine not being able to eat because another inmate is taking your food. Even go beyond that being in fear of being raped, beat, tortured, stabbed or even killed. Most cases you chose a side, chose a group, or chose a gang. Not because you want to but because you have too. Safety is in numbers in prison as it is on the streets. You want to be safe and protected you do what you have to in order to give yourself the security you need to survive behind bars. Not all prison guards are going to protect you. Some incidences guards lie, allow things to happen, turn their cheek, work for inmates or blatantly don't care what happens because you are a prisoner. 

On top of all that it that doesn't even include the mental stress of being away from your family, your kids, or your spouse. Its hard enough adjusting to prison life whether your sentence is 1 year, 5 years, 30 years or life. Regardless of an inmates sentence or crime they need to be safe. They need resources to help them overcome their past. We need programs to rehabilitate inmates. Give them the tools they need to succeed and to prepare them for a life on the outside of prison. We need programs that will give inmates the ability to get a GED or a Certificate in a certain field or trade while they are serving their time. If we can provide these services/programs to better a person while incarcerated give them the motivation and encouragement they need the tension and violence would be dramatically reduced. We need to give them outlets for knowledge instead of having them "locked down" for long periods of time building up tension, stress, and anger that causes violence or violent behavior. 

Another issue we need to address is that South Carolina is one of the states that has the harshest sentences for Non-Violent offenders. A person with a non-violent charge such as drug possession can get a mandatory sentence of 30 years with no parole. A person who murders another human being can get less time, possibly a 7 year sentence with parole. Most crimes committed in South Carolina do not fit the time given. This is a problem with over crowding in our South Carolina prisons. Non-violent offenders being a target for violent offenders in our prison system. Not only has our judges in the South Carolina court system failed us in improper sentencing, the South Carolina Department of Corrections and the State of South Carolina has failed us. Failed to protect people we love in prison, failed to make the wrongs right within the prison system, failed to re-evaluate and/or reduce time on improper sentencing, and the lack of training and hiring of prison guards. 

The only person that can make these changes and put them into action in South Carolina is the Governor, Henry McMaster. Governor McMaster can make the change to have non-violent sentences reduced to solve some of the over crowding, require extensive training to guards hired to work in our prisons, put study/work programs in place to encourage and set goals for inmates, rehabilitate them and most of all do something to keep inmates safe while incarcerated. 

If you have a family member or loved one who is incarcerated and you are their support system, their piece of mind, you keep them grounded, you listen, you give them love and encouragement I commend you! It is hard doing time with someone you love. It's hard not knowing their fate, their safety, and their well-being on a daily basis. If you are someone who does not have anyone in the prison system its probably hard for you to understand why people like us care. Not all people in prison are bad people, some people just made one wrong choice in life. Some people just deserve a second chance. Regardless who you were 5, 10 or 20 years ago you are not that same person today. Things change, time changes, people change. Please sign this petition so that we can get changes made in South Carolina's prisons for the safety of our loved ones incarcerated. We are their voice! 

My heartfelt condolences goes out to the families of the 7 inmates that were murdered senselessly under the supervision of the South Carolina Department of Corrections and I wish a speedy recovery for the 17 inmates that were injured.

Thank you!

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