Gov. Henry McMaster said some prison inmates have been relocated as Hurricane Florence approaches, but inmates will remain in two facilities located close to evacuation zones in Berkeley and Dorchester counties.
MacDougall Correctional Institution is located just inside Berkeley County’s outermost evacuation zone, while Lieber Correctional is just past the furthest evacuation zone in Dorchester County. Both facilities are near the town of Ridgeville and account for more than 1,000 inmates.
“The analysis so far is… because of (MacDougall’s) placement and because of the types of buildings and a lot of other considerations, it’s safer to stay on campus than it is to try and get off,” McMaster told reporters during a Wednesday news briefing. He added the same was true for Lieber.
Both prisons are roughly 40 miles inland, outside of potential high-risk flood zones. Inmates have ridden out each storm to reach South Carolina since the last evacuation for Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
Department of Corrections spokesman Dexter Lee said inmates will remain at the maximum-security Lieber. “I think that facility is pretty solid,” he said.
Lee said some inmates were moved from Palmer Pre-Release center in Florence County to another facility in Turbeville. The Department of Corrections said more than 260 inmates were evacuated. Officials did not go into specifics about the move, as Florence County is not inside an evacuation zone (although the National Weather Service has issued a Tropical Storm Warning for the county).
McMaster said officials believe the facilities are strong enough that inmates will be safer there than elsewhere once the storm hits.