Sheriff’s Office releases emails, non-conformance reports regarding jail medical provider

Seven inmates have died since November 2021, including most recently 50-year-old Julian Jenkins and 28-year-old D’Angelo Brown.
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 7:26 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - In response to mounting pressures from politicians from the county to federal level, the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office has released hundreds of pages of documents hoping to set the record straight about the issues at the Al Cannon Detention Center.

Seven inmates have died since November 2021, including most recently 50-year-old Julian Jenkins and 28-year-old D’Angelo Brown.

Communications director Amber Allen wrote in a letter to the public today that this was “an opportunity to present an unfiltered picture of what has been happening behind the scenes as we deal with poor medical services from the county-contracted provider, Wellpath, amid our own staff-shortage crisis that has been ongoing since 2014.”

The agency released emails between members of the Sheriff’s Office, Charleston County’s Procurement Office and Wellpath. On May 2, 2022 the director of the jail at the time Abigail Duffy wrote that she had “grave concerns” about Wellpath.

It also released 57 quality non-conformance reports about Wellpath’s services from June 2022 to as recent as last week. On March 25 and 24 it is noted there is no provider on site, as required by the contract.

Allen states that the Sheriff’s Office has struggled to compel Wellpath to do their contracted roles.

She writes that cleaning up bodily fluids of residents would fall under their purview, not detention deputies.

Brown, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, died after months of being kept in a cell covered in his own filth. A lawsuit claims he never received regular medication during the four months he was incarcerated.

The Charleston County Coroner’s Office ruled his death a homicide by medical neglect.

READ MORE: Lawyers blame ‘systemic failure’ for Charleston County inmate’s death

Allen writes that despite county council’s support of increasing detention deputies’ salaries to help close the staffing shortage gap, it’s clear that recent allegations of wrongdoing and poor transparency by county councilmembers show “they really don’t support” the agency at all. She writes that the accusations “have only aggravated the current staffing situation” and “[w]e are working diligently to swim upstream despite the onslaught of attacks, and we know that we will succeed.”

In a letter penned by four members of county council asking for the Department of Justice to investigate, including Teddie Pryor and Chairman Herbert Sass who visited the jail earlier in the week, claim that their request comes due to the “lack of transparency and leadership” that exists within the office.

The Charleston County finance committee met Thursday evening to discuss the vendors who applied for the new inmate medical services contract in executive session.

This comes after the Sheriff’s Office raised concerns about the vendors.

The newly-released documents reveal that the Sheriff’s Office hoped to partner with MUSC as a non-competitive bidder, but Allen claims that the county revised the language of the request-for-proposal, which has since closed.

MUSC was not on the list of the vendors being considered to be awarded the contract.

This is a developing story.