State News

SOUTH CAROLINA POSSIBLY SENTENCING INMATES TO DEATH DURING COVID-19

In the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic several Correctional Facilities within the State began taking precautions for staff and inmates. But it seems now that these precautions may not be enough amongst issues of understaffing and lack of funds.

31 inmates across South Carolina prisons have died of the disease and many more are infected. Many inmates complain of low hygiene practices in the facilities and subpar meals since the onset of Covid-19. Facility Managers state that they are doing what they can to ensure the safety of their staff and inmates, but without proper funds its difficult.

For many inmates who are not serving long sentences such as for child support this becomes a serious issue. They run the risk of contracting the disease and possibly having complications from it.

Back in April of 2020 the Supreme Court of South Carolina issued an Order halting the execution of arrest warrants for child support and alimony and then updated it in May. It stated, “I FIND that the public health emergency created by COVID-19 requires changes to the normal functioning of the South Carolina Judicial System. Therefore, in order to protect the health and safety of our State’s citizens, and Pursuant to Article V, Section 4 of the South Carolina Constitution,

IT IS ORDERED, that any and all unexecuted bench warrants issued by Family Courts of this State, for the non-payment of child support and alimony, shall not be executed and no person subject to such bench warrants shall be arrested, for a period of thirty (30) days from the date of this Order.”

This Order was updated again in July to prevent Covid-19 issues in the States Prisons and Detention Centers. But it was not given again since July. When suddenly the flood of warrants began to pile in to the Court System. And thousands of parents were pushed into the States Detention Centers and Prisons.

South Carolina Department of Correction

With the issues of understaffing and under funding for many of these facilities these now inmates could be sentenced to death by simply contracting the disease while incarcerated. As many agencies report still high numbers in the State concerning Covid-19.

Inmates with already failing health issues are in more danger as the Covid-19 virus could create more deadly health issues. Inmates in the Kershaw County Detention Center complain that they have to sometimes wait days prior to seeing the nurse and even then are given substandard treatment.

The Kershaw County Detention Center is not run by the State Correction but is run by the County itself, it’s staff are County employees. Last year Kershaw County Sheriff Lee Boan attempted to take control of the Detention Center but was voted against regaining control by members of the Kershaw County Council.

The Post and Courier ran an article covering two inmates who had contracted Covid-19. Mark Trammell, a 60 year old inmate with cancer, who died and Betty Cochran who was recovering from bladder cancer and had to have her bladder removed, due to not being treated after she contracted Covid-19 while incarcerated.

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