Juvenile prisons looking for 45 new officers after riot

FILE

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – The director of South Carolina’s juvenile prison system says she’s trying to hire 45 new guards to counter a rise in violence and gang activity.

Department of Juvenile Justice Director Sylvia Murray told a Senate committee investigating her agency Tuesday that the agency is reversing a policy of making the main juvenile prison in Columbia more like a dorm and less like a jail.

Murray says a takeover of a dorm last year and a February riot prompted the change. The agency has started bolting furniture and sinks because they were being as weapons. It’s also installed shatter-proof glass.

Murray says the department has a more than $3 million surplus. Lexington Republican Sen. Katrina Shealy suggested Murray use that money to pay hiring bonuses to supplement guards’ $26,000 starting salary.

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