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South Carolina Prison Industries Employee Fired for Writing Tell-All Book

by Scott Grammer

Daryle Starks is a retired chief pet­ty officer of the U.S. Navy, with 24 years in the service. He was working at South Carolina’s Tyger River Correctional Institution, supervising prisoners as they made hardwood flooring on the overnight shift, when he wrote a self-published book titled “The Forgotten.” The 128-page book, published under the nom de plume “D. Lamonica,” made up from Starks’ first and middle names, tells of corruption and abuse at the prison. 

The book was no bestseller – it had only sold about 20 copies by March 2019, when a family member mailed a copy to a prisoner at Tyger River. Staff at the facility intercepted it, then banned Starks from the prison. Shaw Industries, the $4 billion corporation owned by Warren Buffett’s holding company that contracts with the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) to make hardwood floors using prison labor, fired Starks.

Starks said that some of the names and details in his book were changed to protect individuals and businesses. He gave himself a character pseudonym, and changed the name of the prison and the name of Shaw Industries, but insisted none of the events he wrote about were fabricated.

The book, co-authored by someone Starks called “Inmate David,” describes murder and rape within the facility, corrupt guards and gang members running things. It also describes the food as containing insects, and the ubiquity of drugs and contraband cell phones. Inmate David wrote, “I would classify myself as having PTSD just like a soldier coming from a war. Because behind these walls of SCDC, in our daily lives as inmates, it’s a constant war of survival.”

A spokesperson for Shaw Industries declined to comment, while SCDC spokeswoman Chrysti Shain stated, “[g]angs do not run the SCDC prisons.” 



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