Prisoners Report on Conditions in

South Carolina Prisons

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. help out

www.prisoncensorship.info is a media institution run by the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons. Here we collect and publicize reports of conditions behind the bars in U.$. prisons. Information about these incidents rarely makes it out of the prison, and when it does it is extremely rare that the reports are taken seriously and published. This historical record is important for documenting patterns of abuse, and also for informing people on the streets about what goes on behind the bars.

We hope this information will inspire people to take action and join the fight against the criminal injustice system. While we may not be able to immediately impact this particular instance of abuse, we can work to fundamentally change the system that permits and perpetuates it. The criminal injustice system is intimately tied up with imperialism, and serves as a tool of social control on the homeland, particularly targeting oppressed nations.

[Censorship] [Civil Liberties] [South Carolina]
expand

Illegal Mail Hampering in South Carolina RHU

To Whom It May Concern,

Pursuant to the South Carolina Constitution, Article I, Paragraph 2, Religious Freedom, Freedom of Speech, Right of Assembling and Petition, “The General Assembly shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government or any department thereof for a redress of grievances . . .”

Pursuant to South Carolina Department of Correction (SCDC) policy PS-10.08 Inmate Correspondence Privileges, September 6, 2022, “6.1.9 Inmates in RHU and SSR will not be allowed to receive newspaper/magazine clippings/crossword puzzle pages/photocopies of books, or information printed from the internet mailed in while they are housed in RHU/SSR”. Per SCDC policy OP-22.38 RHU.paragraph 8.1 “Mail will be delivered on a daily basis excluding weekends, holidays; and emergencies . . .”

The South Carolina Dept. of Corrections Current Mission Statement quoted as follows: “Protect The Public, Protect The Employees, Protect The Inmates”

Current SCDC policies, procedures, and practices serve to create an environment in direct conflict and opposition with their Mission Statement. Furthermore, SCDC’s Mission Statement should be expanded to include educational and rehabilitative goals. The entire system needs to be restructured to meet all the needs and goals effectively and efficiently. “Protection” is just one of many needs.

Mail Censorship and Mail delivered to Restricted Housing Unit inmates daily

The mail system currently in use at the Broad River Facility and throughout SCDC is a disgrace to The United States Postal Service. The persons employed in the mail room are not properly trained. Violating Federal Law with regard to delay, tampering, theft, and destruction have become commonplace. The people employed in the mail room have been charged with the task of screening the mail for contraband material. This function is clearly necessary and must continue. However, the staff in the mail room make a habit of exceeding their authority and the inmates have little recourse.

While institutional policies imply that all inmates will have ample access to send and receive mail, inmates housed in RHU (segregation) are limited to what we can receive in the mail. Inmates’ mail is constantly being violated by the officials in RHU. Officers can be found reading inmates’ mail, pass out mail late, and only once a week. As of September 6, 2022, RHU inmates no longer can receive “newspaper/magazine clippings, information printed off the internet, etc”. The updated policy does not give RHU inmates an explanation as to why we no longer receive certain mail.

On July 1, 2009, SCDC removed The United States Postal Service receptacle for outgoing mail from the yard, thus interfering with inmates ability to communicate with family, but also interfering with access to the courts, and communication with attorneys. On this date, inmates were instructed to give their outgoing mail to their dorm Lieutenant, (“The dorm Lieutenant is not authorized to handle mail”) most inmates fear giving their mail to unauthorized persons.

SCDC on September 6, 2022 changed section 6.1.9 to the Inmate Correspondence Privileges Policy. Inmates before this date were allowed to receive “5 newspaper/magazine clippings per envelope, information printed off the internet and photocopies of books.”

The policy change to section 6.1.9 do not explain why RHU inmates no longer can receive such items in the mail.

Pursuant to Hustler Magazine, Inc. V. Falwell, 495 US 45,46,108 sct 876, 832, “The government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable . . .”

Pursuant to Jones V. North Carolina Prisoners Labour Union, 433 US 119, 97 sct 2532 (1977), “Fact of confinement and needs of the penal institution impose rational limitations on prisoner free speech rights . . .”

My hope is that you have received this report with an open and inquisitive mind.

BRSF 4460 Broad River Rd. Columbia, SC 29210

chain
[Prison Food] [South Carolina]
expand

Report from the South Carolina Department of Corrections

To whom it may concern,

Pursuant to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 5, no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment.

Pursuant to the United States Constitutional Amendments, Amendment VIII, excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Pursuant to South Carolina Department of Corrections Police ADN - 16.05 Food Service Operations, sections 2.4.2, ensuring that master menus conform to the Recommended Dietary Allowances, & 7.1.1, menus posted in all living areas, & 7.1.6, food will be prepared progressively and served at proper temperature, 7.6.3, food service specialists ensuring food quality, quality are in compliance.

The South Caroline Dept. of Corrections current Mission Statement quoted as follows:

“Protect the Public, Protect the Employees, Protect the Inmates…”

Current SCDC policies, procedures, and practices serve to create an environment in direct conflict and opposition with their “Mission Statement”. Furthermore, SCDC’s “Mission Statement” should be expanded to include educational and rehabilitative goals. The entire system needs to be restructured to meet all the needs and goals effectively and efficiently. “Protection” is just one of the many needs.

The food served at the Broad River Secured Facility and throughout SCDC has always been a topic with wide spread opinions depending on which side of the fence you are on. SCDC brags that they have the lowest cost per inmate in the country. Eat one of the meals and you’ll see why. SCDC inmates housed at BRSF are suppose to receive fruit every lunch meal like general population but we don’t.

A large portion of the meals are cheap starches. Milk, when it is available, can only be obtained at breakfast, and on the numerous occasions it is either not av liable or it runs out before all inmates ain RHU (Restricted Housing Unit) have been fed. White rice or pasta served every lunch and dinner. The portions, which are supposed to be regulated, are left to the discretion of the inmates working on the serving line and “told” to give RHU inmates half a portions. On the weekends RHU inmates along with general population are fed only two meals every Saturday and Sunday.

One of mans most basic instincts is self-preservation. A large portion of the problems that arise at BRSF are due to search for edible food (edible being defined not only as able to be eaten as far as taste, but also as far as safety, and, most importantly, quantity). While there are laws, as well as policies which prohibit certain forms of punishment, the denial of food for being in the “Restricted Housing Unit” (segregation) have become common.

Inadequate Food Served in BRSF

Pursuant to SCDC policy ADM-16.05, Food Service Operations & 2.4.2 and & 7.6.3, “Ensuring Inmate Master Menus conform to the”recommended dietary allowance… Food Service Specialists ensuring food quality, quality are in compliance…"

On April 10, 2023, I myself as well as eighteen other prisoners declared a “Hunger Strike” challenging our poor conditions of confinement at Broad River Secured Facility, and inadequate food portions was one of our reasons. We are being fed like children in a elementary school. Every meal we are not receiving the recommended portions that was recommend by the “National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council.”

Beginning of January 2023, SCDC changed its food menu and started serving inmates “fruit on lunch meals, chicken patties, fish, and chop chicken.” However, we in BRSF-RHU are not receiving these item with the exception of fish.

Our meals have one scoop of grits during breakfast and when we have rice or pasta we only receive one scoop. At one point of time we were receiving “paper trays” that couldn’t hold food so this shorten our meals. These paper trays always had our food mushed together and fallen out the bottom. On the weekends we are fed two meals a day and neither meal we don’t receive adequate portions.

Pursuant to Knop v. Johnson, 667 F. Supp. 467 (W.D. Mich. 1987), “food is one of the basic necessities of life protected by the Eighth Amendment…”

Also see Ramos v Lamm, 659 F. 2nd 559, 570 (10th Ci. 1980_. Robles v Coughlin (?), 725, F.2d 12 (2d cir, 1983).

My hope is that you have received this report with an open and inquisitive mind. While I hope this information helpful, the higher hope is you will investigate this matter for yourself. It is fair to say that no matter who is asked, politician, citizen, or inmate, the answer is still the same: The Broad River Secured Facility needs a complete overhaul along with SCDC!

chain
[Organizing] [South Carolina]
expand

Preaching Unity

I’m glad I haven’t sealed this scroll yet because I have something to bring to the table that I keep hearing and it is driving me nuts! We as “revolutionaries” are supposed to know and understand that one of the basic stratagems of the oppressor is the divide-and-conquer tactic. They highlight our differences and want us to think that we are all different. While differences do exist among people, those of us locked behind walls and convicted of felonies have only superficial differences. We are all under the foot of the downpressors, the destroy powers, the divine evils!

The “divide” can be so subtle and simple in its application that we sometimes fail to recognize it. If we listen to our speech and take note of how often we use the words “they” and “them” when referring to other prisoners we might be shocked.

Here in South Carolina, the administration will withhold a necessity and then make/ force/ coerce us to fight over it. For example, on Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU) there are supposed to be 2 roll-around phones, yet “y’all” can’t get the phone upstairs because “y’all” broke it last time. Or on the yard, each wing is supposed to have a basketball, but of course we get only one and now the confusion begins.

A lot of times this so-called “other” may be one of your religious or organizational or ideological brothers. Even more, if we are looking to recruit, aren’t “they, them, and y’all” potential comrades? We are beating ourselves. They divide us in a million different ways and we defeat ourselves because we know all conflict back here is a potential disaster.

Remember, before you became aware, enlightened, educated, reformed, etc. or whatever designation you choose to put yourself in, you too were once unaware, ignorant, deaf, dumb, blind, and a savage in pursuit of happiness. You were the “other.” If there are any brothers in South Carolina reading this I ask that you live up to the principles you proclaim.

Respect!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade calls for exactly the unity we need to build the prison movement. And so we ask the logical next question: how can we build this unity in practice? Calling on others to see the importance of unity is one way. Are there campaigns we can wage that will bring people together? Study classes to hold? Cultural events to host? We look for ideas from others behind bars. What has worked for you to build unity?

chain
[United Front] [Lieber Correctional Institution] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 69]
expand

Throwing Peace Signs, Building Unity in SC

When I think of unity, I think of "together." It doesn't matter your sex, race, religion, organization, age, or where you're from. Unity is putting all our differences aside, coming together to focus on the bigger situation. Like the saying "there's strength in numbers." If we're constantly battling against each other, how can we ever focus on the root of the problem?

I'm currently incarcerated in Ridgeville, South Carolina at Lieber Correctional Institution. I'm not a part of any organization, but I've learned about a movement going on throughout the yard, promoting "peace" as well as "unity." An older brother told me about the movement from my cell door, and he explained that you shake hands with 2 fingers, meaning "together" and "peace." Then I moved to another unit, where brothers are throwing up the peace sign passing by in the unit, and hollering out "peace" from across the unit. Now, I find myself peacing up brothers, and after reading ULK 68, I find myself peacing up brothers more than I used to. After reading ULK 68 I was impressed with the movement, and was eager to promote peace as well as unity, considering myself a leader, as well as being looked up to, as respected.

I began telling brothers about ULK, MIM(Prisons) and USW movements, and I'm dying to receive a copy of the next newsletter. To educate myself, as well as share to educate other brothers as I was educated by another leader about this movement. I'm in the process of putting something together on the oppression going on right here at Lieber, so I promise you'll be hearing from me again soon. Thanks, as well, for voicing our concerns, conditions, and struggles behind these walls, that the public never knew, knew and didn't care, or didn't believe what goes on back here.

chain
[Abuse] [Ridgeland Correctional Institution] [South Carolina]
expand

Abuse of Power

As I'm still studying your literature from last month I’d like to expound on some abuse imposed upon me. Last October (2018) I earned my way back to a lower custody kamp. By the end of November, chaos erupted and the state law enforcement division opened an investigation on me AFTER an inmate pointed me out. This inmate did so to seal a deal so as to not be shipped to a violent yard like I'm at currently. However, the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) dropped the investigation 4 weeks later due to a lack of evidence (0 phone calls, DNA, or fingerprints).

Contraband officers at Goodman Correctional pursued charges to cover their end of the deal with that other inmate. The solution to a non-existent problem/a problem I had no participation in was to have me shipped at any cost. So I was shipped on a charge of "conspiracy to smuggle" contraband throughout the state. I went to my hearing here at a Level 2 yard (Ridgeland C.I.), where I'm housed, and beat the charge.

I came here, as a M.O. custody prisoner and now I've been switched to a higher custody (M.R.) for no reason or charge. Now I'm forced to stay here until they feel like shipping me (at least until May). They (administration) have no problem abusing their power. Me being neutral, and from Charleston (the most hated-on city state-wide), they better hope I don't get ganged or stabbed.

chain
[Abuse] [Kershaw Correctional Institution] [South Carolina]
expand

Winter is coming and SCDC is taking away jackets

After being transferred a couple of times, I lost your information. However, I got your contact (address) info from someone else and am eager to start back receiving mail from your organization. I'm sincerely in dire need of more of your literature to keep me focused as I once was, cause over the past couple of years S.C.D.C. has gotten drastically worse in terms of prisoner's rights and I'd like to rejuvenate myself on how to combat these injustices. With cellphones being our only source of an outlet, they had us on a statewide lockdown from April 15, 2018 until, well, we still locked in our cells here.

New correctional officers received over $4K in bonuses, but yet we don't get vocational training to stay busy, we aren't paid (at least $2/day) for our various labor duties to prevent robberies of those with family support or to prevent the success and attempts to smuggle contraband into facilities. We're charged for very inadequate medical services, we're also fed scraps (leftovers) from previous meals, which all too often are no good, amongst a slew of other savage conducts the director (Brian Sterlin) enforces.

It's fall, winter is coming up, and Brian Sterlin has officially outlawed the possession of toboggans by prisoners and sent his officers to take up all state issued jackets. With us being located on the coast, we know how brutal cold moist air can be. Is this a form of genocide or is he just trying to make the already inadequate medical services his personal "cash cow"? Either way, I scream that this gets put on world news to expose these maggots. To reform is to fix, this system isn't broken, it's just plain wrong!!!

chain
[Campaigns] [South Carolina]
expand

South Carolina fighting limits on indigent correspondence

I initiated my challenge to South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC's) policy of only giving us two indigent envelopes a month, to coincide with the campaign to resist restrictions on indigent correspondence that was started in Texas. See Watts v. Sterling, C/A No. 6:16-CB-00 478-JFA-KFM (D.S.C. Jan. 22, 2016 – filed). I lost the case, but I'm preparing to re-litigate it as soon as I exhaust my administrative remedies again.

This is the main reason I haven’t been able to write to y'all within the last two years = shortage of envelopes! The other reason has been because of all the time I've been researching and working on my conviction and sentence.

Although I am not a revolutionary (in the sense that I wish to overthrow the government), I enjoy reading ULK because it features so many articles from people who are affiliated with organizations, such as the Nation of Gods and Earths, United B.L.O.O.D. Nation, and the Almighty Latin Kings and Queens Nation. I have nothing but mad respect for these people! These people have the best understanding of seeing prisons for what they really are, and not for what they just appear to seem.

chain
[Censorship] [Evans Correctional Institution] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 54]
expand

Stop Wasting ULK on Censorship

This letter is to inform you to discontinue sending out the Under Lock & Key newsletter to me here. There is a very repressive regime established at this prison and indeed the entire state. The censorship of our materials goes without challenge. Why? Authorized violation of so-called rights! The grievance procedure is designed to be a stalling mechanism and as it stands now is actually depriving the prisoners here of redress of grievances and access to the courts!

I do not want relevant/useful information appropriated or destroyed by these foolish people so please do not continue to mail any of your publications for now. I am furious at these methods and practices this system is using to block our awareness and consciousness but I am unable to offer a real challenge because these South Carolinians are fast asleep! I grow weary of the incessant thought of the problem. Merely writing or filing actions to the courts who, with every degree of bias/prejudice, turn blind eyes. We need some direct action! Do not let our papers go to waste brothers and sisters! I do not have any reliable sources out there. Yet, but I guarantee I soon will.


MIM(Prisons) responds: It is always sad to hear from comrades hard at work behind bars who want their Under Lock & Key subscription terminated due to censorship problems. We appreciate this comrade's desire to save us the cost of sending in a publication that will only be censored, but we have also noticed that in prisons that are usually censoring our literature, occasionally things will slip through. So if you are in this situation, we are willing to continue to send ULK, in the hopes that it will get to you.

If we look at the last 10 issues of ULK, the rate of copies reported received in censor-heavy states like South Carolina and North Carolina are the same as the average across the country. The reports of censorship in those states are higher, but we still have more people reporting ULKs received. We have also had isolated victories after appealing censorship in both states in the last couple years. Of course, if more subscribers told us which issues they received and which they did not, we would have more information so we could make a more accurate assessment. So please let us know specifically what you have received every time you write us.

Ultimately it is a tactical question of when we want to exclude a facility or state from our mailing list because we think we are just throwing money away. Overall, we know that only a small fraction of the prison population is exposed to Under Lock & Key and we will always face state repression in our efforts to expose them. So we have chosen tactics that increase our chances of exposing the greatest number of people.

This writer is setting a good example by fighting this censorship on all the fronts possible. And trying to organize others as well. Conditions change over time, and organizing is a dialectical process that involves many failures. This letter underscores the need for outside support for our comrades' battles behind bars.

chain
[Organizing] [Perry Correctional Institution] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 53]
expand

September 9th Setback Leads to Unity Building

Within the last six months at this institution there has been at least one riot in the unit where I was housed, and several assaults by officers upon prisoners, which resulted in officers getting stabbed and/or beat up.

This particular institution has a long history of racism, oppression, and repression directed towards Blacks. In the past, it was basically one-sided, as far as the violence - only officers assaulting prisoners. However, that dynamic has changed drastically.

Needless to say, these people have been shipping prisoners to different institutions throughout the state. I haven't been shipped, but I've been moved a couple of times.

A little over a week ago there was almost a lumpen-on-lumpen situation, but some of the elders were able to obtain peace, since that particular situation I made it my personal responsibility to hold some classes to help educate these youthful lumpen on what it means to have unity.

I am also sad to inform you that on the September 9th Day of Peace & Solidarity there were several prisoners who stabbed each other up - thankfully none of them were killed. Since then, we have been mending the different fractures that exist among the lumpen organizations here; we've been using the ULK newsletters as tools to teach, education, and unite the various groups.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This was one of a couple disturbances that occurred in South Carolina on or around September 9th that were not actually part of either of the major countrywide organizing efforts made for that day. This goes to show how hostile conditions in the state are. We commend this comrade for making the most of the difficult situation. It is in times of strife that change can often come.

chain
[Medical Care] [Ridgeland Correctional Institution] [South Carolina]
expand

Fake Nutritionist Approves Unhealthy Diet in South Carolina

K2 [a drug that's growing in popularity amongst U.$. prisoners] is also in an epidemic stage. It's so bad I'm getting headaches from the secondhand smoke. The situation is much worse than you can imagine, worst than crack.

Secondly, I received a therapeutic diet for two out of the three meals I receive during the week. It's always the same for lunch and dinner (mystery meat included).

I began to inquire as to why we eat the same meal every day twice a day and was told to contact SCDC "nutritionist" Ryshema Davis. Ms. Davis refused to comment.

I then contacted the SC Department of Labor licensing and regulation (LLR.SC.Gov). To my surprise Ms. Davis does not have a license, however because Ms. Davis works for a "state" agency she's allowed to use the title, pursuant to Title 40 Code of Regulations.

The public needs to know their tax dollars are paying for inadequate meals, not providing the required vitamins and nutrients, and an unlicensed "nutritionist," who serves the same meals every day.

The public in South Carolina needs to know. Inadequate amounts of food, not providing vitamins and nutrients, causes loss of vision, loss of energy, nerve damage, muscular weakness, burning and itching of eyes, indigestion, diarrhea, depression, nausea, skin eruptions, weakened immune system, all of which causes medical expenditures and so on.

And as a last note, SCDC has yet to provide me with a copy of a federal or state inspection for the "mystery meat" we eat.

chain
Go to Page 1 [2] [3] [4]