It’s no secret the South Carolina Division of Juvenile Justice (SCDJJ) has devolved right into a dystopian Thunderdome below governor Henry McMaster’s “management.” This company – which first descended into chaos below former governor Nikki Haley – has someway managed to fling itself even additional into the abyss over the past 5 years.
How did that occur?
Two phrases: Freddie Pough.
Hand-picked by McMaster in 2017 to show this company round, Pough has as an alternative accelerated its collapse.
A report issued last February by the U.S. Division of Justice (DOJ) uncovered one of many company’s basic issues: Persistent shortages of safety employees which have created an atmosphere which “significantly harms youth or locations them at substantial danger of great hurt from different youth.”
These staffing shortages – which date again no less than seven years – had been documented in a report issued earlier this yr by the S.C. Legislative Audit Council (SCLAC). That report concluded Pough has been losing cash that would have been spent hiring extra guards (and paying them higher salaries).
The end result? In keeping with the SCLAC report, SCDJJ has misplaced over 32 % of its safety employees since 2017 – whereas violence has elevated by 42 % at its amenities over the identical timeframe.
And issues have solely gotten worse “behind the wire” since then …
Actually each week over the previous month, my information outlet has reported on harrowing tales from behind the partitions of SCDJJ’s notoriously understaffed Broad River Street Advanced (BRCC). In keeping with my sources, rapes and beatings are commonplace at this facility – a troubling case research in what occurs when a core operate of presidency is mismanaged.
Two weeks in the past, I reported exclusively on an alleged rape and tried suicide involving a feminine juvenile inmate at BRCC. After the tried rape, the inmate “tried to hold herself,” a supply acquainted with the state of affairs instructed me.
Round this similar time, sources inside BRCC instructed me a bunch of juveniles broke into one other constructing on campus – absconding with meals, half a dozen laptops and a number of cell telephones. As of this writing, just one laptop computer has been recovered. Elsewhere on campus that weekend, a number of juveniles reportedly killed a big turtle that had wandered onto the property from neighboring Harbison State Forest – smashing it towards a cinderblock wall.
“They tore its guts and different very important organs out and threw them in all places!” a witness instructed me. “Additionally they took bloody physique components from the useless creature and chased the safety employees with them. This sick and wicked act on an harmless creature is animal cruelty!”
DON’T MISS A STORY …
Lower than per week earlier, brokers of the S.C. State Legislation Enforcement Division (SLED) had been known as to the ability to assist quell a “disturbance” at BRCC. In keeping with my sources, this “disturbance” was in actuality a “full-blown riot.”
The week earlier than this “disturbance?” A 16-year-old male juvenile inmate was overwhelmed inside an inch of his life by different inmates who had been reportedly wielding a “metal-pole-like weapon.”
The place had been SCDJJ safety personnel when this transpired?
“They left me alone,” the younger man stated, per his legal professional.
Final week, one other violent incident allegedly passed off. In keeping with my sources, shortly after 4:30 p.m. EDT on September 3, 2021 a 17-year-old male juvenile inmate was allegedly “lynched” by as many as fifteen different juvenile inmates. The boy was “stomped and repeatedly kicked within the head face and physique,” one supply acquainted with the state of affairs instructed me.
“He was lined in blood and had shoe prints on his cheek and arms,” the supply added.
After a short hospitalization, the injured juvenile inmate was returned to SCDJJ’s infirmary.
“(The) youth reported there was not sufficient safety to cease the opposite males from kicking him,” the supply continued. “He state he felt they had been going to harm him actually unhealthy or (kill) him.”
The identical male juvenile inmate was reportedly the sufferer of an tried sexual assault.
“He’s traumatized in any case he has gone by at DJJ,” the supply stated.
Once more, I don’t blame the guards at SCDJJ for what is going on. Their ranks have thinned because of misappropriated assets, failed approaches and an total lack of management from Pough and his employees. Because of worsening staffing shortages, they’re being pressured to work shifts ranging anyplace from 24 to 36 hours inside dilapidated buildings replete with urine-soaked, feces-stained cells – usually in backed-up sewage.
No surprise so lots of them have reached their limit …
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(By way of: Fb)
How has Pough responded to this worsening debacle? Readers will recall his failed makes an attempt to save face in the media – in addition to a just lately introduced, taxpayer-subsidized dog and pony show.
Nonetheless, the chaos worsens …
As I reported again in March of 2016, lots of SCDJJ’s issues stem from its choice to undertake a so-called “Balanced And Restorative Justice” (BARJ) mannequin of self-discipline within the hopes of making “a extra therapeutic atmosphere” for its juvenile inmates.
In keeping with a truth sheet launched by the company on the time (.pdf), the BARJ mannequin is meant as “a response to crime that permits for lively participation by sufferer, neighborhood, and offender within the justice course of.”
“It’s a values framework which acknowledges that justice is greatest achieved by constructing, or re-building, relationships between crime victims, the neighborhood, and juvenile offenders,” the actual fact sheet continued.
Look, I get it. “Restorative justice” is a laudable idea. It’s, in truth, one of many chief goals of the correctional system. It can’t supplant public security, nevertheless – nor can makes an attempt to realize it endanger the security of inmates entrusted to the care of our state’s correctional system (to say nothing of the guards, academics, counselors and different staffers tasked with serving to “restore” these juvenile inmates).
Sadly, that is precisely what has been occurring.
“For the reason that inception of BARJ there was a significant enhance in employees assaults (and) accidents and violent incidents,” a supply contained in the company instructed me 5 years in the past. “Underneath BARJ self-discipline is nonexistent which is why the juveniles have principally taken over.”
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(By way of: S.C. Governor)
State lawmakers have renewed their concentrate on the disaster at SCDJJ in current months, calling on McMaster (above, left) to fire Pough.
Not solely is McMaster doubling down on his help of Pough, nevertheless, he’s accosting lawmakers making an attempt to carry him accountable. In reality, this recalcitrance might have drawn him an opponent in subsequent spring’s “Republican” gubernatorial major – with state senator Katrina Shealy asserting earlier this week she was “contemplating” difficult McMaster.
“I’ve supported the governor in lots of his coverage concepts however on the subject of the actual folks of South Carolina who want our assist essentially the most his concepts are failing them,” Shealy instructed me. “We’re placing the unsuitable folks in positions to guard our kids, households and seniors – and it has turn into a struggle each time we search for the best management in these positions.”
A lot of the savagery “behind the wire” at SCDJJ has been uncovered due to brave sources – and due to advocates like Wendy Varner, who has organized a Fb group entitled “Let the Walls Talk.” This group is comprised of involved residents like Varner who’re demanding that Pough and his employees “be held accountable.”
Not surprisingly, Pough has executed his greatest to restrict the circulation of knowledge from his company – together with a September 2019 memo which sought to “coordinate” SCDJJ’s response to the current legislative audit within the identify of “effectivity and responsiveness.”
Actually? To me, the memo comes off as an effort to hide the myriad issues on the company …
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(By way of: Offered)
Clearly, SCDJJ leaders didn’t need workers giving auditors an unvarnished evaluation of the company’s points. Moreover, a newer “confidentiality settlement” – which all SCDJJ workers are required to signal – instructs them to maintain all company data to themselves and “not disclose it to individuals with within the company who don’t have any job-related have to know, or to individuals exterior the company with out correct authorization.”
The doc additional stipulates SCDJJ workers is not going to “at any time, immediately or not directly, orally or in any written or digital type, disclose any confidential data” or take away such data from company premises.
Violators of those insurance policies will “be reported to administration and if vital, legislation enforcement.”
Actually, such insurance policies are usually not exterior the norm for state businesses, however SCDJJ sources have instructed me Pough is utilizing the paperwork to threaten workers with their jobs ought to they share data.
“SCDJJ workers are being threatened in the event that they discuss to anybody about something,” one lawmaker who helps examine the company instructed me. “It’s a tradition of secrecy.”
Certainly it’s … in truth, Pough is at present under investigation for allegedly concealing particulars of violent incidents at SCDJJ, in addition to for misappropriating funds and falsifying information, in accordance with a letter despatched to S.C. legal professional basic Alan Wilson again in April by a number of state senators.
For years, this information outlet has maintained a gentle concentrate on the persistent issues at SCDJJ – which it can proceed to take action till they’re addressed. Hopefully that may occur sooner moderately than later, however each Haley and McMaster have clearly proven they’re both unwilling or bored with implementing the required reforms.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
(By way of: FITSNews)
Will Folks is the founding editor of the information outlet you’re at present studying. Previous to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives within the Midlands area of the state along with his spouse and 7 youngsters. And sure, he has LOTS of hats (together with that St. Louis Cardinals’ hen lid pictured above).
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