Corruption and Misconduct Persist as South Carolina Prisons Detain Multiple Officers

In the past few months, there have been instances of illegal activities carried out by officers who are supposed to uphold the law in several prisons in South Carolina.

In January, a total of seven officers were arrested at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Richland County. These arrests mark a significant step in the ongoing efforts to crack down on contraband within the prison.

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department has been conducting investigations since mid-January. These investigations were prompted by a letter from the South Carolina Department of Corrections to the County Administrator. The letter warned that unless the county addresses the numerous violations within 90 days, the Alvin S. Glenn detention center may face closure. As a result of the investigations, several arrests have been made. The charges include contraband or misconduct. Among those arrested are two employees from Allied Universal Security, a third-party company, as well as five individuals directly hired by the detention center.

Richland County Administrator Leonardo Brown expressed his strong disapproval of the deceitful actions that compromised the security of the facility and put the well-being of its occupants at risk. The employees involved have been placed on unpaid leave and their termination is pending a decision by County Administrator Leonardo Brown. Sheriff Leon Lott took a firm stance on the matter, stating that any employees who betray their oaths will face consequences similar to those faced by inmates.

Officers engaging in illegal activity is not limited to just the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in South Carolina.

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The South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (SCDJJ) has encountered several obstacles in recent months, with officers facing allegations of misconduct. In mid-December, officers Jessica Norton of Lexington and Ayotunde Roane of Columbia were charged with misconduct in office due to their inappropriate contact with youth. While specific details about the incidents are still unclear, both officers chose to resign from their positions as juvenile correction officers.

Alexander Howell, a 33-year-old juvenile correction officer, got arrested a few days ago for receiving financial payment from youth in DJJ care in exchange for contraband. After a thorough investigation, Howell was fired from his position and is currently being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.

In early November, Alicia J. Johnson, a 23-year-old juvenile correctional officer, was dismissed from her position for supplying contraband to young individuals, which included several vape pens. Johnson is now facing charges of adult furnishing contraband to a juvenile and misconduct in office.

In early October 2023, Shaki Franklin-Johnson, a 26-year-old juvenile correctional officer, found herself facing charges of petit larceny and misconduct in office. The allegations stated that she had taken $650 from a secured location. Franklin-Johnson voluntarily surrendered to SCDJJ’s Public Safety Criminal Investigator and is currently out on bond. These incidents serve as a reminder of the challenges faced within the SCDJJ and the crucial need to address misconduct in order to uphold the safety and integrity of juvenile justice facilities.

In 2023, the McCormick Correctional Institution carried out investigations that resulted in the apprehension of a minimum of eight officers. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson disclosed indictments from a state grand jury, which accused these officers of misconduct in office. These indictments are part of a broader investigation into sexual misconduct with inmates, money laundering, and smuggling contraband.

During a news conference, Wilson highlighted the significant effects of public corruption and contraband cellphones, connecting them to violent crimes, drug trafficking, and child sex crimes. The investigation, referred to as “Operation Gatekeeper,” led to misconduct charges against Whitney Thurmond, Dontai Parks, and Brandon Taylor in November 2023. These charges could potentially result in a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

South Carolina prisons are grappling with a persistent issue of corruption and misconduct among active officers. Recent arrests indicate a concerted effort to address and eliminate this problem.

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