"P" is for Prisons and Penitentiaries

May 15, 2019

Credit SC Public Radio

"P" is for prisons and penitentiaries. The first significant jail in South Carolina, a twelve-foot square designed to accommodate sixteen prisoners, was built in Charleston in 1769. Prior to the Civil War, fines and corporal punishment—rather than incarceration—were the most popular forms of punishment. In 1868, the state’s first penitentiary opened in Columbia. Later renamed the Central Correctional Institution (CCI), it became the state’s most notorious prison—and Cell Bock One was still in use when CCI closed in 1994. By the early twenty-first century the South Carolina Department of Corrections operated twenty-nine prisons. Combine, they housed more than twenty-thousand inmates. Each facility is categorized into one of four divisions: minimum security, medium security; maximum security; and women’s facilities. In addition to state prisons, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has two facilities in South Carolina.