Because of concerns from other prisoners at the high-security Kirkland Correctional Institution that Alex Murdaugh is a target, he is kept in a cramped single concrete cell and not solitary confinement.
Solitary confinement and single cell are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings.
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Solitary confinement is a form of imprisonment in which a prisoner is isolated from human contact for 22-24 hours a day in a small cell. They may only have limited access to food, exercise, and communication with the outside world, and are often kept in these conditions for weeks, months, or even years. Solitary confinement is usually used as a form of punishment for prisoners who have violated prison rules or for their own protection from other prisoners.
On the other hand, single-cell refers to a practice where each inmate is housed alone in their own cell. This means that they have their own space and privacy, but they are still able to interact with other prisoners and staff during activities such as meals, exercise, and educational programs. Single-cell is often used as a means of managing the prison population and reducing the risk of violence or conflict between prisoners.
While both solitary confinement and single cell involve housing prisoners alone, the key difference is that solitary confinement is a form of punishment and involves extreme isolation, while the single cell is a management strategy and allows for some level of social interaction between prisoners.
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Why is Alex Murdaugh being held in a single cell?
Officials at the jail, which is home to some of the state’s most violent criminals, believe that his prior status as the patriarch of a well-known legal family makes him a target for other prisoners.
Murdaugh, 54, is served meals in his cell and consumes them by himself. Every time he is allowed a brief break from confinement, he is also accompanied by at least one prison officer.
While Department of Correction officials conduct medical exams, evaluate Murdaugh’s mental state, and “gather other extra background information,” he will be housed in the cell for 45 days.
He will either be transferred to Kirkland’s general population following the evaluation, based on the results, or to another prison. Murdaugh is being housed with the state’s most brutal and violent prisoners because he committed two murders.
The deplorable circumstances stand in stark contrast to the privileged environment of multi-million dollar houses he is used to, from the coast to the Lowcountry’s hunting grounds.
After being found guilty of murdering his wife Maggie, 52, and younger son Paul, 22, at the family’s hunting estate in Moselle on the evening of June 7, 2021, Murdaugh was last week given two straight life sentences.
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Kirkland Correctional Institution, Columbia
Kirkland houses more than 1,700 of the state’s most violent criminals and evaluates more than 8,000 prisoners each year.
It houses a specialized maximum-security jail for the most dangerous and violent offenders, as well as serving as the processing site for all of the state’s convicts. The Broad River Correctional Institution is located next to the prison and houses both high and medium-security inmates.
Between 2015 and 2021, over 700 inmates died in South Carolina prisons and jails. The majority of those fatalities (160) occurred in Kirkland and Broad River (101).
‘Kirkland is also in charge of the maximum-security unit, which houses some of the state’s most violent and dangerous inmates,’ according to the website.