COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) – The South Carolina Department of Corrections moved Death Row for the second time in two years on Thursday, this time from Kirkland Correctional Institution to Broad River Correctional Institution.
According to SCDC, this move addresses some of the concerns raised in a recent lawsuit filed on behalf of the Death Row inmates. The 2017 suit focuses on how much time inmates spent in total isolation and other issues that arose when they were moved from Lieber Correctional Institution near Charleston to Kirkland, in Columbia.
Since 1997, Death Row inmates have been kept in solitary confinement and have only been allowed to leave their cells for one hour a day. Now, for most Death Row inmates, the new unit will operate more like a general population dorm.
Death Row inmates still will not interact with the general population at Broad River. They will have jobs on the unit like serving meals, cleaning the common areas, laundry or assisting fellow inmates with disabilities. They will also have the opportunity to worship together in services coordinated by the institution’s chaplain.
The new unit at Broad River is the one originally built to house these inmates in 1988. They were moved to Lieber in 1997. The space then housed the Department of Mental Health’s Sexually Violent Predator unit, but was freed up when that department moved to a new facility this year.
“We are glad to be able to return this unit to its original purpose,” S.C. Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said.
According to SCDC, for the past year, the agency has prepared for the move and worked to better security measures. They visited Death Row facilities in other states and brought back ideas and best practices to incorporate into the new facility.
SCDC stated that the move went smoothly with no issues. The staff who worked on Death Row at Kirkland transferred with the inmates and will now work at Broad River.
South Carolina currently has 38 inmates on Death Row, including one incarcerated out of state.