CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Members of Charleston County Council on Tuesday sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice calling for an investigation into the Al Cannon Detention Center.
Charleston County Councilman Teddie Pryor told News 2 earlier this month that he planned on sending the letter to the DOJ in wake of several inmate deaths, specifically, after an inmate who died last December was left in squalor at the jail.
The letter, councilmembers said, is in response to “several troubling and tragic deaths” at the facility in the past two years. One of those deaths, 28-year-old D’Angelo Brown, was deemed a homicide by the Charleston County Coroner’s Office.
“The coroner’s report indicated a reckless lack of proper medical care, some of which was documented by the detention center,” the letter reads.
While councilmembers said they understand detention and healthcare fields are facing staffing challenges nationwide, they said proving competent medical care and oversight must remain a priority.
“The members of Charleston County Council have shown that we are committed to providing the necessary funding and support to Sheriff Graziano’s detention center operations. Unfortunately, there is a lack of transparency and leadership that necessitates this request to the Civil Rights Division in order to ensure qualified detention center leadership and medical providers are in place to end this cycle of tragedy and adequate operational procedures exist,” the letter says.
They are urging the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate operations at the Charleston County jail to “protect those housed there from ongoing and future harm,” and to better serve residents as a whole.
Congresswoman Nancy Mace (R-SC) was joined by Councilman Pryor for a tour of the detention center on Monday. She said mental health and staffing were among the top concerns at the jail.
Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano provided the following statement in response:
“The allegation that we have been anything but transparent is categorically false. Councilman Pryor and all members of council were invited to review thorough documentation of our concerns that we made to the county contracts office over the past year. They did not take us up on our offer.
It is disappointing that some county council members, as well as other elected officials, are only curious when it is politically opportunistic.
I stand behind the work of my employees. They are the hardest-working people in this county. The work that they do keeps us all safe. I will be the first person to welcome any member of the Department of Justice to my facility, and I believe that we are going above and beyond our call of duty to provide assistance on mental health concerns. I also invite the elected officials of South Carolina to do their job and do their part to stop the dumping of the mentally ill in jails.”