The Kershaw County Detention Center was build in 1993 and back then was operated by the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Department, but since that time many things have changed, and not for the better.
The facility is designed to hold no more than 89 inmates, but now averages on a daily bases approximately 130 inmates. These inmates are housed in what are called Pods for clarifications of their charges. Or at least that is the way it use to be.
Currently inmates are housed in a mixed variety within these Pods. For example it has always been the practice of keeping inmates charged with any children crimes (including child sex crimes and child pornography crimes) separate from other inmates. But currently in Pod “H” inmates with Domestic Violence, Child Sex Crimes, Drug Charges and Family Court Charges (which are usually classified as Trustees) are all housed together.
This is just the beginning of the downfall for this Detention Center. Among other issues at the facility are the disrepairs of the building itself. Paint coming of the the walls and floors including the ceiling which clearly presents a health and safety issue. In the kitchen of the facility there is no hot water for use to either clean the trays or kitchen utensils. Currently the Detention Center facility was given an 86 rating by DHEC for food prep and cleanliness, but many of the scores are blank because the inspector did not observe the practices and simply scored them as passing.
The food is served 3 times a day to inmates around 6 A.M., 11:30 A.M. and 5 P.M.. Breakfast usually consists of either Grits or Oatmeal with a chicken breakfast patty. Lunch is a limited variety of below par food, which is required to be served in a $5000 Hot Box bought by the facility administrator. The food only stays in this expensive box for 10 minutes. Dinner currently consists of a turkey sandwich with chips and some cookies.
Many feel that this below par menu is somewhat inhuman and should be upgraded. Many of the inmate state that they basically survive on their canteen orders. Inmates or their loved ones can order items from a limited selection such as ramen soups and candy. They may also orders sock, undergarments, writing tablets, certain medical items such as antacids and hygienic products such as soap and shampoos. Just to give you an idea of the cost of these items one ramen soup costs .85 cents and a pair of socks runs over $2.00. Items that are not available to inmates are sodas and coffee or tea, along with other such small conveniences. Canteen orders are delivered once a week. We were told that the facility administrator determines the items on the canteen order sheets available to inmates. For comparison inmates in Sumter can order sodas and coffee.
Most of the inmates we spoke with stated that they are treated more like children than adults, but have also stated that most of the officers who work the facility do give a level of respect. Most of the complaints we were told were concerning the facility administrator Cato. That he gives very little respect to anyone and that he rules this facility with a dictatorship attitude. He holds entire pods responsible for the actions of one inmate, which is not the norm for most facilities like this. And from what we have been told is the exact opposite of from the previous administrator whom former inmates praised for her level of respect and treatment of them.
It was suggested to us that Cato was more concerned with bonuses than the care of the facility or its inmates and staff. The detention center has a high turnover rate and currently is severely under staffed. Along with the mentioned issued at this facility you can add on that the 2 washer and dryers the facility has continuously break down. We emailed Mr. Cato and the members of the Kershaw County Council asking them if they had any sort of response to these issues several weeks ago and have not received any response.
Sheriff Lee Boan attempted to take control of the detention center a few years ago and was denied this by the County Council. This change would have required all staff members to be trained and certified as Deputies of Kershaw County. Currently the staff are employees of Kershaw County and not the State Department of Corrections or Law Enforcement. It is also important that one understands that the Kershaw County Detention Center is considered a private facility, and that the County receives funds for housing the inmates.
Some will argue that these individuals are there for a reason and should not expect to be on vacation, while others will argue that there is still a certain level of humanity that these inmates are to be given. But it would seem that the inmates at the Kershaw County Detention Center are more of a cash cow for the County.