South Carolina Will Not Evacuate Prison Inmates In Hurricane Florence's Path

Despite being in a mandatory evacuation zone, South Carolina will not be moving inmates at MacDougall Correctional Facility.

At least 650 prison inmates will be remaining in their jail cells despite the mandatory evacuation order of their location in anticipation of Hurricane Florence,

MacDougall Correctional Facility, a Level 2 medium-security men’s prison, is in Berkeley County, one of five counties South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster placed under mandatory evacuation order on Tuesday morning.

“We’re monitoring the situation,” South Carolina Department of Corrections spokesperson Dexter Lee told VICE News. “Previously, it’s been safer to stay in place with the inmates rather than move to another location.”

The correctional workers scheduled to work during the days of the storm are also staying put. The prison said they are required to show up for their shifts.

This shouldn’t come as a shock to South Carolina residents. In fact, the state hasn’t evacuated any of its prisons during a hurricane since 1999, according to the Post and Courier.

Back in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana and large swaths of the Gulf Coast, the New Orleans Sheriff's Department "abandoned hundreds of inmates imprisoned in the city’s jail," Human Rights Watch reported at the time. At least 600 inmates at the Orleans Parish Prison compound were left in their cells until four days into the storm—when the water level had reached their chests.

North Carolina, however, has been evacuating their inmates in preparation for Hurricane Florence.

“We’re moving inmates and staff because of what we feel is safety concerns based on the information we have. It’s safer to move operations away from the storm,” Department of Public Safety spokesman Jerry Higgins told VICE News.

He told The Charlotte Observer that hundreds of the state's inmates are being moved to larger prisons located in safer areas. Officials evacuated inmates in Virginia, too.

Advocates are criticizing South Carolina for their decision.

Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, an incarcerated group of prisoner rights advocates said in a Facebook post that, “Everyone is worried based on news reports of how huge #hurricaneflorence is.”

[Photo: South Carolina Department of Corrections]

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