Columbia, SC (WLTX) - For the past three weeks, News 19 has received phone calls and Facebook messages from concerned family members of inmates in the Broad River Correctional facility.
Those concerns stem from reports that inmates aren’t getting enough food and that they aren’t allowed to take showers.
The mother of an inmate at the Broad River facility says that for the past two weeks, her son has not been fed properly in the prison.
“They only get food twice on a weekend. I got in touch with him and he told me that it was 2pm before they even got breakfast one morning. That's been about two weeks ago."
She has asked not to be identified, but says her son is serving a 30-year sentence. He sent her a photo of the meal he received on Saturday, which included a ham and cheese sandwich and corn flakes.
"He called me the other day and said ‘Ma they aren't feeding us properly, we haven't had a bath in four days. Me and my roommate are in here stinking up the joint, they won't let us clean our rooms,' and that concerns me."
Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling says they are aware of the concerns, but the Broad River facility has been on a secure lockdown for the past few days, meaning inmates have not been able to leave their cells.
“They are fed regularly,” says Stirling. “Even if they are in their cells, they get fed three times a day. As far as the showering process, we have to get them a shower and we will, that will happen shortly, but what we have to do is make sure that the institution is secure before we can do that."
Director Stirling says with the limited staff at the department, they have to lockdown more often. Including during this current lockdown, as they search for inmate contraband.
We're struggling to hire and retain correctional officers, so when we don't have enough people to run the institution securely we have to put people on lockdown. That's just the safety and security of everybody. We have to do that. We don't like to do that, that's the last resort, that's why we are being so aggressive in our hiring plan."
However, family and friends are still worried about their loved ones behind bars.
"I'm a concerned parent."
The department of corrections was down more than 700 corrections officers in the past, now they are down nearly 500, but are still looking for more.