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Higher pay, new door locks, new director: Richland County lays out plan to improve jail

The 180 page document details the county's main goals, including items to increase security.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Richland County is laying out the steps they're taking to try and make improvements to the Richland County Detention Center, after the state's corrections department asked for a report on how they were trying to better the jail. 

County Administrator Leonardo Brown held a news conference Wednesday, days after his agency sent the South Carolina Department of Corrections a detailed strategic plan to address safety and sanitation issues at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center. The report had been requested after three inmates deaths and issues with toilets, door locks, and officers being arrested. 

The 180 page document details the county's main goals. Brown said overall, the county seeks to improve the culture at the jail so employees want to work there, inmates are treated well while they're detained, and Richland County residents can feel safe. 

"The plan is to get an 'A,' if you will, and how we do that is through this strategic focus, which is reflected in the details of that plan," Brown said.

The plan includes an update on the salary for entry level officers, which is a minimum of $40,000, as well as offering a referral bonus and the current overtime pay. 

Brown said the county is also actively looking for a detention center director and plans to hire someone in the next 60 days. They're also hiring a compliance director position who will be in charged of making sure the center is complying with state law and they've already hired a division manager to oversee training. 

The county has also issued a purchase order for new locks on the cells. Back in January, detainee Antonious Randolph was killed by five other inmates. According to the Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, the inmates were able to get past the locking system to gain access to the area where Randolph was held.

The county has issued a purchase order for new cell locks that it says will be harder for inmates to compromise. The jail will begin installing those devices this fall and the work should be finished by May 2024.

As for other physical improvements, Brown said the kitchen has been updated and the food service provider as been audited by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. And they're making renovations to flooring, lighting, plumping, toilets, and upgrading security cameras. They've also changed the company that performs the pest control at the jail.  

Now that the strategic plan has been submitted, the next step is for the Department of Corrections to review the plan and provide feedback. He said the department will let Richland County know if the plan is comprehensive and addresses all of the issues, or if there are other areas the county needs to focus on. 

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