2 inmates stabbed a day after feds launch investigation of troubled Richland County jail

Two inmates were stabbed and injured Friday night at Richland County’s Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, just a day after federal officials announced a civil rights investigation into the troubled jail where an ongoing pattern of assaults, poor living conditions and staffing challenges has drawn increasing levels of scrutiny.

One inmate was taken to a hospital with multiple stab wounds, while another was treated at the jail for injuries that were not life-threatening, according to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, which said it responded to the incident at the jail around 9:30 p.m. Friday.

The sheriff’s department did not provide further details in a brief news release Saturday but said the stabbings are under investigation.

More than a dozen inmates have been stabbed at the jail in recent months, and at least six people have died while being held at Alvin S. Glenn since February 2022.

On Thursday, U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for South Carolina announced they have launched a civil rights into conditions at Alvin S. Glenn, as well as an investigation into Charleston County’s Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center.

“Over the last 15 months, I‘ve held the hands of family members who had to bury their loved ones,” Adair Buroughs, U.S. Attorney for South Carolina, said Thursday. “I’ve spoken to law enforcement officers that do not feel safe entering these spaces, and I’ve met with community advocates who are deeply concerned about what appear to be consistent constitutional failures in these facilities. Today I say, ‘We hear you.’”

The investigation of the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center will examine whether the jail failed to protect incarcerated people from violence and subjected them to dangerous living conditions.

In the first nine months of 2023, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department filed 33 incident reports following calls to respond to the jail. A review of those incident reports as well as eight federal lawsuits paint a picture of a facility where stabbings, assaults and fights are common.

In a press conference Thursday afternoon, some Richland County officials downplayed the conditions that led to the new federal investigation and instead portrayed the investigation as the product of legal maneuvering by attorneys who have sued the county.

“I think there is certain information, that has been provided by the media to some attorneys, that has, unfortunately, been completely wrong or incorrect,” Richland County attorney Patrick Wright said. “We actually welcome them (the Department of Justice) to come in and have a third party, who is not biased, who will actually take a look at the facts and not just present information that will benefit attorneys and their law firms in a financial way.”

In October, the Richland County Council approved over $3 million for a new visitor center at the jail. The county has also approved salary increases for employees, renovated the kitchen, which once received a “C” rating from health inspectors, and committed to replacing locks throughout the jail.