COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina has again moved its death row facilities, transferring more than 30 condemned inmates early Tuesday morning from a remote prison to a Columbia location across town from the state’s death chamber.
Thirty-seven inmates were moved from Lieber Correctional Institution in Dorchester County, to Kirkland Correctional Institution in Columbia, 90 miles (145 kilometers) to the northwest, according to Corrections Director Bryan Stirling.
South Carolina’s death chamber is located at Broad River Correctional Institution, a different maximum-security prison in Columbia. Housing the inmates in the same city is more efficient for the agency, Stirling said.
Lieber is located in remote, rural Ridgeville, meaning that inmates and the officers who must accompany them need to travel long distances any time they need to go to court or seek health care services outside the prison.
The return marks the reversal of a move made 20 years ago. In 1997, South Carolina’s death row inmates left Columbia for Lieber, with the agency’s then-director saying the move was driven by a desire “that the correctional staff who deal with those inmates on a daily basis are not the same individuals charged with the responsibility of carrying out the death warrant.”
At the time, inmate advocates said the move would make it harder for relatives and attorneys to visit.
South Carolina hasn’t executed an inmate since 2011, citing lack of access to the drugs needed for lethal injection, the state’s primary execution method.
This story has been corrected the number of death row inmates moved to 37.