Richland County hires two former federal prosecutors to investigate troubled jail

The Richland County administration announced that it has hired two separate law firms to conduct an independent review of the claims against the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.

The move, announced in a press release Thursday, comes two weeks after the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it was opening a civil rights investigation into the troubled jail.

South Carolina-based Wyche Law Firm and the national firm Maynard Nexsen have been hired by the county. They will “investigate claims against the jail” and provide information to Justice Department investigators, according to a statement released Thursday.

“The County has nothing to hide,” the statement read.

Former federal prosecutors Mark Moore, from Maynard Nexsen, and Jim May, from the Wyche Law Firm, will be involved in the investigation, Moore confirmed Thursday. Both attorneys prosecuted cases for the U.S. Attorney’s Office of South Carolina before entering private practice.

Since 2021, Richland County has poured millions of dollars into remedying problems at the jail. The funds

include roughly $3.6 million for staffing, $15 million for improvements to facilities and an additional $8 million for security.

But violence remains pervasive at the jail. Since the Justice Department’s investigation was announced, there have been multiple stabbings. This week, 40 inmates were arrested following a riot that broke out Sunday where part of a dorm was set on fire.

The two firms are “very good,” said attorney Bakari Sellers, a former state representative who has filed ten lawsuits against the jail. But, “why didn’t county council do something 12 months or 18 months ago?” Sellers asked.

The justice department’s investigation of the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center will examine whether the jail failed to protect incarcerated people from violence and subjected them to dangerous living conditions. Among the reasons cited by the Justice Department for beginning the investigation were six deaths at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center since 2021, in addition to two alleged rapes, 16 confirmed assaults and two escapes.

“The public should be aware that Richland County takes its responsibilities seriously and will continue to take all necessary and appropriate steps to improve the conditions at Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center,” according to the statement.