Inmates at Columbia's Broad River Correctional Institute claim correctional officers discriminated against them, trafficked drugs, denied them participation in programs and exchanged sexual favors with inmates, according to a lawsuit filed in a federal court.
The lawsuit, which was filed in February against Department of Corrections officials, was filed by 28 inmates in the prison's State-wide Protective Custody Program, which includes inmates such as Todd Kohlhepp, who was convicted of killing seven people.
Michael Stephen, the prison's warden, two correctional officers and a department official were sued for violating the prisoner's civil rights, according to the suit.
Prisoners also claimed two correctional officers were affiliated with a gang and trafficked drugs into the institution, according to the lawsuit. The same officers are accused of engaging in sexual acts with inmates, which at times are not consensual.
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Inmates claim that members of the prison's general population are paid more for work, allowed more time on the phone and are free to participate in more prison programs, such as drug treatment, according to the suit. Correctional officers allegedly deny these programs even if they're a condition of that inmate's sentence.
Members of the State-wide Protective Custody program are kept separately from the prison's general population. All members of the program have been housed in Broad River since late 2016.
They also say they are routinely locked in cells for weeks at a time for violating rules, and are never given an opportunity to appeal the decision, according to the suit. They say the cells are poorly ventilated, filthy and lack outlets for inmates to use.
Outside of their individual unit, prisoners allege health care in the institution is poor, and many inmates — some suicidal — are denied mental health care, according to the suit.