The Daily Gamecock

Penitentiary conditions deserve closer look

South Carolina prisons woefully inadequate, new measures benefit all



There are certain things most people would say are necessary for a society to remain civilized and free of serious danger. One of those is the safety of the citizens in that society. One of the most effective ways to foster a feeling of security is to ensure that the state and federal prisons are maintained, guarded and kept under control. However, South Carolina prisons have lately proved significant deficiencies that could eventually result in a major crisis. This is precisely the reason Gov. Nikki Haley has proposed investing an extra $18 million in the prison system next year. 

The Lee Correctional Institution is a prime example of why this money is absolutely necessary and why not putting this money into the prison system could lead to bigger problems down the road. Lee lacks sealed vents, making it relatively easy for inmates to pass around contraband. These forbidden items, like cellphones and notes, allow inmates to coordinate riots more easily. This particular penitentiary has had two riots in the pass nine months, and one of which resulted in a stabbing. It also lacks guard towers. Inmates have been caught breaking out of their cells and picking up contraband that had been throw over the fence. Part of Haley’s proposal is installing two guard towers to deter this kind of activity. 

Some may say we have bigger problems in this state than refurbishing our penitentiaries, but the $18 million Haley has proposed putting toward the prison system would be a one-time deal. Anything that can fix a problem and doesn’t cost taxpayers in the future is a good deal. This would be well worth it in the long run for a variety of reasons. 

Fixing the prisons will keep everyone safer. If the prisons are properly maintained and the prisoners are not able to coordinate attacks, the security forces become more confident and effective. Part of the money Haley is allotting will actually raise the pay of prison guards, which would send a strong and well-deserved message to the men and women who work in corrections: that our state truly appreciates what they do day in and day out. Guards who feel appreciated and protected will be more motivated to do their jobs well, leading to less stress and less turnover, and in turn the people of this state can feel more secure. 

The most important thing this money will do is help to prevent a true prison break. So far this state has avoided a catastrophic escape of dangerous criminals, but the riots are an ominous foreshadowing of a potential coordinated inmate uprising. This money will be key in helping prevent a possible tragedy with added guard towers, better-compensated guards and more secure prisons, allowing all citizens of South Carolina to sleep a little easier.


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