Family seeks federal probe of jail where Orangeburg inmate died

Lason Butler
Lason Butler(Contributed)
Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 3:49 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - The family of an Orangeburg man who died last year in custody at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center is requesting a U.S. Department of Justice investigation.

Attorneys for the family of Lason Butler, 27, want the investigation of the detention center and Richland County for what they call inhumane conditions and a dangerous culture of “apathy and malfeasance.”

Butler’s family is represented by Pete Strom, Bakari Sellers and Alexandra Benevento of the Strom Law Firm along with Audia Jones of the Law Office of Audia Jones.

“The conditions at Alvin S. Glenn are worse than deplorable; they’re criminal,” Strom said. “How many people have to die before Richland County takes it seriously?”

Butler was found dead on the morning of Feb. 12, 2022. Sellers said Butler had been found with rat bites on his body and had died in the solitary confinement area. He’d had been in custody since Jan. 31 and was facing traffic charges that included reckless driving, failure to stop for a blue light and driving with a suspended license.

Images from the presentation showing the conditions in Butler's cell at the time of his death.
Images from the presentation showing the conditions in Butler's cell at the time of his death.(WIS News 10)

In addition to Butler’s death, which Richland County Coroner Naida Rutherford ruled a homicide, a letter from the law firm refers to several inmates who say they were subjected to physical attacks. According to these reports, members of the detention center staff not only failed to intervene and stop these attacks but, in some cases, even facilitated or even participated in the violence.

“Alvin S. Glenn is a death trap,” said Sellers. “This culture of neglect has infested their administration and staff as surely as rats infest the cells and, if Richland County refuses to do anything about it, maybe the DOJ will.”

The letter also points to a video from inmates that illustrated the situation at the center.

“This is some of the worst depravity and neglect I’ve ever seen and, at Alvin S. Glenn, that’s not the exception. It’s the rule,” said Benevento. “I can’t imagine treating anyone like this and it’s time to hold Richland County accountable.”

The request comes on the heels of another death at the detention center. On Jan. 27, Antonius Donshe Randolph was found dead at the jail. His death was described as a murder in the investigation.

Also, a corrections officer was arrested and charged last month with having an ‘inappropriate’ relationship with a murder suspect.