COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina juvenile detention facility is in need of emergency security and safety upgrades after several minors escaped and caused damage, a state official has told lawmakers.
Officials need to replace a faulty door-locking system at the facility at the department’s Broad River Road complex in Columbia, Department of Juvenile Justice Acting Director Eden Hendrick told a legislative committee in a letter. The State newspaper reported the request on Monday.
They also need to install new lighting and ceilings in the youth pods and housing control areas, replace chipped tiles in the showers and perform related mechanical work, she said. Hendrick sought the committee’s approval for the repairs, though the agency has not provided a cost estimate for the work.
The Joint Bond Review Committee is expected to formally review the proposal at its January meeting, according to The State.
The damage occurred after several minors in a high-security building escaped their pods on Nov. 17, using damaged pieces of the ceiling and lights as weapons in an ensuing melee, the newspaper said.
Order was restored in 25 minutes, and one minor received off-site medical care, Juvenile Justice spokesman Jarid Munsch said.
The understaffed facility has been plagued by security breaches.
“Until they get staffed, you’re going to continue to have problems out there,” state Sen. Dick Harpootlian, D-Richland, told The State Monday. “And they can’t hire staff, because it’s not safe. People aren’t going to go work in an environment where they may get hurt.”
The juvenile justice department’s last director, Freddie Pough, resigned in September.