Phone Zap! Remove metal plates on prisoners’ windows in South Carolina

When: Friday February 28

This week all eyes are on South Carolina with the Democratic Primary scheduled for February 29.

In 2017 South Carolina Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling used prison slave labor to install metal plates to cover prisoners’ cell windows. Blocking natural light and access to fresh air is a clear violation of the international “Nelson Mandela Rules.” SC Prisoners have been fighting to get them taken down since.

On November 7, 2019 SCDC spokesperson Chrysti Shain told a journalist that all plates would be removed from the windows. Metal plates are still up at most Level 3 and Level 2 facilities. Lack of sunlight for these prisoners is putting them at severe risk of developing a Vitamin D deficiency and puts them at increased risk of cancer.

Prison reform nonprofit the Vera Institute touts itself as transforming “living conditions” and “Restoring Promise” in SCDC through their partnership. The idea of “Restoring Promise” cannot be reconciled with a prison system where thousands of prisoners are not even given reliable daily access to sunlight.

Prisoners in SCDC are asking folks to make one of the following calls:

Who to call:

  • 864.380.8777 – State Rep. Eddie Tallon
  • 803.734.2430 – Governor McMaster’s office
  • 212.376.3140 – Alex Frank, Vera Institute

Who to email:

Sample Scripts:

If calling Governor McMaster’s Office or Representative Eddie Tallon:

“South Carolina Department of Corrections currently has thousands of prisoners in over a dozen facilities with metal plates on their windows. The metal plates restrict airflow and access to sunlight. This is a violation of basic standards laid out in the International “Nelson Mandela Rules” and basic human decency. These conditions put the prisoners’ health at risk of Vitamin D deficiency which can cause cancer. We are asking that you tell SCDC Director Bryan Stirling to let the prison laborers, who he had put these metal plates up, take them back down immediately, as his office promised to do back in November. The eyes of the nation are on South Carolina right now, and this human rights atrocity within SC Prisons must end.”

If calling Alex Frank at Vera Institute:

“Ms. Frank, your program is a part of an effort by Bryan Stirling to clean-up the image of the South Carolina Department of Corrections after the violence at Lee. Prisoners in level 2 and 3 facilities do not have regular access to sunlight because metal plates block the windows in their cells. These conditions put the prisoners’ health at risk of Vitamin D deficiency which can cause cancer. Prisoners are requesting that you leverage your contacts and relationships within SCDC to get these metal plates down. Vera Institute and your program are complicit in the human rights abuses of SCDC if you are not holding them accountable for those abuses. SCDC promised to take these metal plates down in November and there are still more than a dozen facilities where prisoners have metal plates on their windows. Contact SCDC and demand that they take these metal plates off the prisoners’ windows.”

Please send report backs to [email protected]