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Nine Employees Arrested at Troubled South Carolina Jail

In just a month in early 2024, nine employees were arrested at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, the lockup run by South Carolina’s Richland County. The state Department of Corrections (DOC) opened an investigation at the jail in Columbia in July 2023, prompted by a series of stabbings, escapes and contraband smuggling attempts, as PLN reported. [See: PLN, Nov. 2023, p.39.]

The first arrest occurred on January 12, 2024, when guard Amara Brown, 27, was booked into the lockup where she worked for allegedly placing an August 2023 DoorDash food order that was later found during a cell shakedown of an unnamed detainee—the same one to whom Brown also admitted smuggling a cellphone. She was released on a $10,000 bond.

On January 17, 2023, fellow guard Antiona Walker, 25, was allegedly caught trying to enter the jail with packs of Newport cigarettes hidden inside potato chip bags and a fountain drink that reeked of alcohol. No bond amount was announced for her.

The following day, on January 18, 2023, guard Donisha Grady, 36, was arrested after tipped-­off investigators discovered she had spoken with an unnamed detainee over his contraband cellphone 65 times in six months. A week after that, on January 25, 2024, guard A’Zasia English, 23, was also jailed for allegedly communicating outside of work with an unnamed detainee on his contraband cellphone. Grady’s bond was set at $10,000 and English’s at $20,000.

The next day, January 26, 2024, a K-­9 dog alerted guards to a car driven by Zaria Watson, 23, a guard working under contract from Allied Barton Security. They searched the vehicle and found marijuana, after which Watson was arrested and jailed on a $20,000 bond.

Just one more day passed before the next arrest on January 27, 2024, when jail employee Consuela Porch, 27, was arrested on multiple counts of exchanging contraband and having sex with detainees. Tipped-­off investigators intercepted her entering the jail with a plastic cup stuffed with cigarettes and vapes. They also found more contraband in a search of her car. She admitted having an “on and off” relationship with an unnamed detainee, the Sheriff’s office said, using her smartwatch to coordinate contraband drops. She was jailed on a $20,000 bond.

Two days after that, on January 29, 2024, contract jail nurse Jakiera Day was allegedly caught trying to enter the jail with marijuana, which she attempted to hide in a box of crackers. A search of her car then turned up medications apparently pilfered from the jail dispensary and notes to unnamed detainees. She was booked on a $10,000 bond.

By that point, guard Wendell Scholar, 32, had already been on leave 11 days after he allegedly assaulted a detainee on January 18, 2024. Other guards said they had to restrain him after he dragged an unnamed and handcuffed detainee up a flight of stairs, slammed him into a wall and began punching him. While that incident was under investigation, another came to light from October 17, 2023, when fellow guards also had to intervene to pull Scholar off another unnamed detainee he had pushed onto a cell bed and begun punching. For good measure, he shoved yet another unnamed detainee as he was being led away. Scholar was arrested and charged on February 9, 2024, with assault and battery “of a high and aggravated nature,” third-­degree assault and three counts of misconduct in office.

The ninth arrest, on February 11, 2024, was the eighth involving contraband charges. On her way into work at the jail, Shatata Jameca Smith, 26, was stopped carrying a Hello Kitty tumbler and a dinner bag of pasta inside which guards found what turned out to be 99 oxycodone pills and 6.4 grams of crack cocaine.

In a December 2023 letter to county administrator Leonardo Brown, DOC promised to shut down the lockup if deficiencies in staffing and security were not addressed within 90 days. But with nowhere to put some 900 detainees, that threat seemed empty. The federal Department of Justice (DOJ) announced its own investigation on November 2, 2023, based on “credible allegations” that the jail “is structurally unsafe and that there have been sexual assaults, homicides and prevalent violence resulting in serious injuries.” At the same time, DOJ said it was opening an investigation into similar allegations at Charleston’s Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center. See: Justice Department Announces Civil Rights Investigations into Conditions in South Carolina Jails, DOJ (November 2, 2023).  


Additional sources: The State, WIS, WLXT

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