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Hundreds Of Inmates Left Behind In Storms Path

In South Carolina, we have heard local and state officials reiterate how important it is for costal residents to evacuate, and seek refuge from Hurricane Florence. Alerting residents of the multiple dangers of staying put, which included death. Prior to the storm, Gov. Henry McMaster had made a promise not to “gamble with the lives of the people of South Carolina.”
A promise he hasn’t intended to keep, as his administration has rejected multiple calls to evacuate inmates located at a state prison within the mandatory evacuation zone.
Bringing to questions his views and ideologies of inmates. Does he consider their lives having any worth, or consider them the “people of South Carolina?”
Nonetheless, the prison in question, MacDougall Correctional Institution, is a medium-security prison nearly 35 miles northwest of Charleston, and houses 651 inmates.
Despite all of the area around the prison being under an evacuation order signed by Governor McMaster himself, he said at a news conference that “because of its placement and because of the types of buildings and a lot of other considerations, it’s safer to stay on campus than it is to try to get off,” he continued. “That is the safest place for those people to be at this time.”
“Those people” … are also the so-called people of South Carolina Governor McMaster.
10 miles away, another 1,165 inmates are held at the Lieber Correctional Institution, a high-security prison, which state officials have decided not to evacuate either.
Although prison evacuations are costly and challenging when it comes to logistics, Virginia and North Carolina, who are also in Florence’s path, have started transferring inmates inland several days ago.
Officials in South Carolina have argued that they have several contingency plans, however many experts have refuted such claims as a gamble, and reminded the public of the extreme risks.
For instance, in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, thousands of prisoners in New Orleans spent days with no food, drinking water or electricity, while surrounded by filthy floodwaters.
And that’s not all. Just last year, after Hurricane Harvey ravaged parts of Texas, inmates located at federal prisons in the area had to endure weeks without adequate food or water, and had no access to functional toilets or showers.
Eric Balaban, senior staff counsel of the A.C.L.U.’s National Prison Project, had this to say: “If South Carolina has not put everything in place to ensure the safety and security of those men, and of the men and women who work in that facility, then they should evacuate. Time and again there have been prison officials who believed that they had the manpower, infrastructure and everything else they needed to shelter in place, and then they were proven wrong, and they had to scramble to evacuate those facilities as they plunged into chaos.”
Only time will tell if Governor McMaster made the right decision. I am hoping so, for the inmate’s sake. No one deserves to live or go through an experience like that. Especially when they have no say in the matter.

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