Psychiatrist: Some mentally ill female inmates denied hygiene products, served mashed foods and forced to sleep on ground

Updated: Oct. 28, 2019 at 7:46 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A contracted psychiatrist for the South Carolina Department of Corrections claims some female inmates experienced 'abuse' and 'neglect' earlier this year.

Dr. Pamela Crawford testified before the House Legislative Oversight Committee last week. She shared details on what she had seen at Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution earlier this year.

Dr. Crawford said, "I became aware of what in my opinion was abuse and neglect of mentally ill patients." She said mentally ill female inmates weren't getting the treatment they needed.

She claimed orders were put in to deny some inmates hygiene products, they were fed loaves of mashed food (Nutraloaf) usually served to misbehaving inmates as punishment and had their mattresses removed.

Dr. Crawford believes these things were done to punish inmates for seeking help. "Women were freely bleeding in uniforms in their cells and that was ordered by mental health staff," she said.

Dr. Crawford also said these practices discouraged inmates, having a mental health crisis, from getting help.

The Department of Corrections said they immediately began a review once they learned of what was going on. They asked SLED agents to look into this matter as well. SCDC Director Bryan Stirling said, “I wrote a letter to (SLED) Chief Mark Keel to look at this because I was so appalled and shocked this could happen.”

SCDC said when these allegations were brought to them earlier this year they made sure these practices were not continuing at Camille Graham. They testified last week that as far as they know this hasn't happened at other facilities.

SLED tells WIS after a thorough review they did not find evidence demonstrating criminal violations or warranted a further criminal investigation.

During last week's meeting, Representative Gary Clary (R-Pickens) said, "It's sickening when you look at what occurred here. We have to do better."

A spokeswoman with the Department of Corrections said multiple employees have been disciplined and that process is on-going. They are continuing to review cases and are ensuring all inmates are getting the care they need.

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