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Alex Murdaugh's Phone and Tablet Privileges Suspended After Lawyer Records Prison Call for Documentary
“Victims of a crime should not have to see or hear the person who victimized them or their family member on the news,” the South Carolina Department of Corrections said in a statement.
Phone and tablet computer privileges for Alex Murdaugh have been revoked in prison after his personal lawyer recorded a phone call intended for use in a documentary, according to reports.
Murdaugh, 55, who is currently serving two life sentences at a South Carolina state prison for the murders of his wife and youngest son, was accused by prison officials of “willingly and knowingly” abusing his phone privileges after he was caught reading journal entries to his attorney on a call regarding a documentary pertaining to his case, according to the Associated Press.
The disgraced legal scion’s phone and tablet privileges were taken away on Monday following a discipline hearing held in response to Murdaugh’s conduct.
The South Carolina Department of Corrections forbids inmates to speak with the media without prior consent, per department policy. The agency “believes that victims of a crime should not have to see or hear the person who victimized them or their family member on the news,” spokesperson Chrysti Shain said in a statement.
Murdaugh also allegedly made a prison telephone call using a different inmate’s password. In response, officials revoked his prison canteen privileges as well. He will need to request permission to get another tablet, which inmates use to have monitored phone calls, watch entertainment that’s approved by prison officials, read e-books, or enroll in video classes.
“Tablets are designed and secured for correctional use,” Shain added. “They are considered a privilege. The department will determine when and if inmate Murdaugh will earn the opportunity to be issued a tablet again.”
In June, Murdaugh’s lawyer, Jim Griffin, recorded his client reading from a journal he’d kept during his murder trial for a Fox Nation documentary exploring his case, according to prison records cited by the Associated Press.
Prison officials warned Griffin he could lose the ability to communicate with his client while in state custody if he assists Murdaugh in breaking violations again.
“Your actions, whether you intended or not, assisted Mr. Murdaugh in violating our policy and could jeopardize your telephonic communications with him in the future,” Dennis Patterson, the assistant deputy director of operations at the South Carolina Department of Corrections, stated in an email to Griffin dated August 30, the New York Post reported.
Griffin declined to comment in detail on the situation when contacted by Oxygen.com on Thursday.
“I am not commenting on the action taken by the [South Carolina Department of Corrections], other than to say that I have the highest respect for Director [Bryan] Sterling and the job he is doing," he said.
Telephone exchanges between prisoners and their lawyers typically fall under attorney-client privilege and remain confidential. However, Murdaugh’s conversations with Griffin caught the attention of prison officials after a warden reviewing separate calls heard the convicted murderer’s voice using a different inmate’s telephone account.
Murdaugh claimed in response that his own phone PIN wasn’t valid so he’d borrowed the other inmate’s credentials to make a call. He also confessed to recording the journal entries, according to prison records.
In March, Murdaugh was convicted in the double murder of his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, and youngest son, Paul Murdaugh. He was handed consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. Murdaugh has long-denied involvement in both slayings.
Prosecutors said he carried out the murders to cover up a litany of financial crimes he was facing, to buy time in those cases, as well as generate sympathy for himself in order to deflect public scrutiny from his actions.
Murdaugh is facing roughly 100 state charges related to various financial crimes. He’s expected to plead guilty in federal court on September 21 to separate charges involving swindling millions from clients, according to court records, the Associated Press reported.