What Was So Special About Tyheem Henry?
SCDC spokesman Clark Newsom made a (very) brief appearance on 1250 WTMA this morning. The interview lasted about four minutes. In that four minutes Newsom disseminated quite a bit of misleading information to the public. We had hoped the recent pressure put on SCDC by citizens was having an effect. We were wrong. We admit it. Newsomâ€™s statements tell us the SCDC and the new directer, Bryan Stirling, appear to be hunkering down and trying to wait out the storm.
What storm, you ask? You might be correct regarding that aspect of our analysis. As you can probably tell, the media outlets in South Carolina have failed to pick up the story we broke of an offender in a high profile case with access to the internet and using that access to talk trash about his sentence and, some might say, toss out subtle threats aimed at those who testified against him. The alternative media, mainly FitsNews, has run a piece on it. The “regular news” sources have avoided the story like a plague. Given their affinity for attacking Nikki Haley, who by extension is ultimately responsible for SCDC, we are having trouble understanding the reluctance of the media. The only reason we saw any action on the story at all was because it went viral on social media and the SC Attorney General was put on notice first thing Monday morning. Within hours we heard SCDC had taken action against the inmate.
Of course, the case we are talking about is the near beating death of young Carter Strange in the Five Points area of Columbia in 2011. We found Tyheem Henry, who was sentenced to fifteen years in that case, living the high life at Lee Correctional. Most folks in the state donâ€™t know about that case thanks to the media down-playing it or simply not reporting on it due to the racial aspect of the crime. Carter Strange was white, the eight gang members who nearly killed him and laughed about it were black.
People in Columbia, however, were incensed by the news that Henry had a personal cell phone and access to other illegal items, was getting new tattoos and generally living the good life behind bars. He was even able to talk trash about his crime and the fellow Smashteam/Gangster Disciples gang members who snitched on him. Thanks to the efforts of those citizens SCDC was forced to take action. SCDC responded to the pressure with great alacrity. Within a matter of hours we were notified Henry was in lock-up and his phone had been seized.
A brief synopsis of the situation for those of you who may not have delved too deeply into Charleston Thug Life. We ran our first South Carolina Department of Corrections inmate back in late March or early April of 2012. The discovery of one inmate led us to the discovery of many, many more and we began profiling inmates on a regular basis. We found that inmates in one facility were in contact with inmates in other SCDC facilities. They were also in contact with inmates incarcerated in other states.Â Not to mention they were also in contact with fellow gang members from their hometowns and from the rest of the U.S. How do you think they are able to make arrangements to get this stuff over the fences in the first place? One of our profiles over this past weekend provided evidence of an inmate trying to arrange a meeting halfway between Anderson and Columbia so he could get the phones and drugs to the people who would toss them over the fence.
We were concerned by this, given the fate of Captain Robert Johnson who worked at Lee Correctional Institution (LCI). Captain Johnson was shot multiple times in his own home because he was reported to be very good at finding contraband at LCI. It was later determined the hit on Captain Johnson was set up from inside the walls of LCI by an inmate using an illegal cell phone. As we understand it, that inmate has yet to be charged. The solicitor up there doesnâ€™t think it would be worth the trouble.
When we first started profiling these inmates we would include the contact information for SCDC and the institution in which the inmate was incarcerated. Citizens would use that information to contact the authorities and report the finds. When asked where they got the information, citizens would point officials to the CTL site. They would then inform us when they reported the inmates to SCDC. As a result, we know SCDC has known about this site since April of 2012. That date will be particularly important later in this post.
Instead of an expression of thanks or even an acknowledgement that something would be done, these citizens were met with distrust, accusations and interrogations at the hands of SCDC personnel. We have previously reported how one citizen was grilled by SCDC investigators for over two hours in an effort to find out who was publishing the information about inmates on Charleston Thug Life.
When citizens called back to see what use SCDC had made of the information we published they were told, “We canâ€™t tell you that. These inmates have a right to privacy.”
There are a couple of salient points to be made here. First of all, those inmates are in the custody and care of the State of South Carolina. In other words, they exist at the expense of taxpayers who have a right to know what is going on in the facilities they are necessarily forced to fund. In spite of SCDCâ€™s desire to run things as they see fit and not be held accountable, the public does have a right to know how these situations are being handled. SCDC obviously doesnâ€™t think the safety of the public or the right to know what the government is doing on behalf of citizens outweighs the “right to privacy” of an inmate in a correctional facility. Instilling public confidence is apparently not a high priority for SCDC.
Secondly, these particular inmates seem to have given up any alleged “right to privacy” by dealing in and using contraband in those facilities and splashing their photos, thoughts and threats all over social media. These inmates have violated the rules and laws set for them by the State - read: the citizens of South Carolina.
We are going to paraphrase SCDC spokesman Clark Newsom here. He said, “We have had this problem off and on. We have established a relationship with Facebook via our investigators and we have these sites taken down. We have found other sites.”
Really? “Off and on”? This guy either has bad information from his bosses or he is telling you an outright lie. This is not an “off and on” problem for SCDC and particularly for Lee Correctional Institution. It is a prevalent, constant problem.
Letâ€™s take a look at something. What you see below are the bookmarks for SCDC inmates we have either run, are preparing to run, or are researching to determine their real names. We should point out this particular screenshot was taken from a computer that was reloaded and given a fresh start in February of this year. We should also point out these screenshots were taken from just one of several computers used by our various members. Below those screenshots you will find more screenshots of just one of the emails we receive from citizens on an almost weekly basis telling us about other inmates posting to social media from behind the walls of SCDC facilities. These emails are held in a folder called “SCDC inmates pending” until we can get to them. Maybe Mr. Newsom would like us to provide screenshots of the remaining twenty or thirty emails in that folder.
What do you think, SCDC, should we go into the backup we made before the reload and do screenshots of the other hundred or so bookmarks we have of inmates in South Carolina prisons with contraband and Facebook pages? Should we provide screen captures from every other computer we use to do what we do? How ugly do you want this to get?
Here is something you havenâ€™t thought of yet - we havenâ€™t even branched out into other aspects of social media like Twitter or Instagram at this point. What do you think Mr. Stirling and Mr. Newsom - should we start poking around for SCDC inmates on those sites? We guarantee you wonâ€™t like what we find.
Now, letâ€™s see the stats on how many inmate pages your people found, Mr. Newsom. Itâ€™s okay, weâ€™ll wait.
We like to be efficient and have our ducks in a row. We also like to go back and checkup from time to time on the inmates we have profiled. We did that just last night. When we ran through our bookmarks of fifty to sixty inmates already profiled in these pages we found FIVE whose Thugbook pages no longer existed. Can we attribute those five casualties to SCDC? If so, what are you doing with the rest of your time?
Seriously, we have handed you all the information you need to have those pages deleted, yet they are still up and many inmates are still posting to them with their contraband cell phones. Some of those inmates have been profiled on Charleston Thug Life three or four times over the past year. And, we might point out, most of those inmates are from Lee Correctional Institution. It is so bad most of our readers just assume you folks are handing out a cell phone to every inmate who checks into your hotel.
Take the case of Meldrick Johnson, whom we profiled before your recent raids at LCI. If you were making use of the information provided here, you would have had Mr. Pizza Hut Machete Manâ€™s page deleted forthwith, yet there it is. Here are two posts heâ€™s put up since your “raids” at LCI, which apparently werenâ€™t as extensive as we were first led to believe. The first is from 9 September. The second is from 10 September.
Apparently the folks at SCDC have a HUGE problem with managing the few resources they have. Even when someone is handing them information that they canâ€™t seem to develop on their own they still canâ€™t make proper use of it. Instead, they send Clark Newsom out to mislead the public about it. They donâ€™t have pages deleted like Newsom claimed. If they did,we would report on it. We know from experience and evidence like that on Meldrick Johnsonâ€™s page the contraband is rarely found. We have wondered at times if anyone even looked for it. We have seen it time and time again, we have written about it time and time again and our readers have read about it time and time again.
A few other other questions for Bryan Stirling and Clark Newsom. Why is it you moved on Tyheem Henry so quickly, yet claimed not to know anything about the contraband dealers whose information was published the same day? Why did you take such swift action to isolate Tyheem Henry and then have his page deleted, but the pages of everyone else we profiled that weekend are still up and running? Can you pinpoint for us what was so special about Tyheem Henry? Why was his case so different from any of the other rapists, murderers or drug dealers we have profiled in the past year and a half? Did you simply target him this time because you thought conventional media was going to get involved?
You folks have known about the inmates profiled on Charleston Thug Life since April of 2012, yet you have apparently done very little about it (and thatâ€™s being generous). Of course, we donâ€™t know if you conducted cell searches or cell block raids because inmates have a right to privacy. Curiously, you didnâ€™t waste any time violating Tyheem Henryâ€™s alleged “right to privacy” by letting everyone know you found his charger, his cell phone and he was in lock-up. We do know, however, you havenâ€™t done a damn thing about the Thugbook pages we exposed. That evidence directly contradicts the claim you made on the radio this morning. In case you havenâ€™t noticed, Mr. Newsom, we are all about evidence.
Mr. Newsom, you mentioned your investigators during the interview on the radio. How many do you actually have and how poorly are they paid by the State for their services? How much traveling do those too few investigators have to do between facilities trying to keep up with their caseload?
Here is something else for Mr. Stirling and Mr. Newsom to consider. We here at Charleston Thug Life have a standing rule about profiling inmates. We donâ€™t put them up unless they have posted something in the thirty days prior to the post. We make exceptions to this rule only if we see threats, violent activity or contraband deemed dangerous to corrections officers. We probably have another one-hundred (100) inmate Facebook pages in that category bookmarked across the teamâ€™s computers. Once the inmate is able to get their hands on a new cell phone and starts posting again, then we run them. Should we start running each and every one of them today as well? After all, it would go far in confirming the pattern we have already established here. Maybe we should just change our name to SCDC Thug Life and allocate every bit of our research effort to the inmate issue on a full-time basis. That might be fun and it would certainly be a lot less labor intensive than documenting criminal histories of street thugs charge by charge.
Mr. Newsom was also asked about technology for blocking cell phones in prisons. Tara Servatius first asked about “jamming” cell phones. That was an error Newsom jumped all over with the “itâ€™s illegal” mantra. He was then asked about what California and Texas are doing to block cell phone use in their institutions and we seem to recall he brought up the term “managed access”. That would imply Newsom is familiar with the technology. He pointed out how expensive it was. The host then provided information about how California and Texas are getting it for free from the companies who make a fortune off of prison pay phone calls. Newsom claimed he didnâ€™t know anything about that, so the host offered to send him the videos have posted here.
In closing, Newsom said SCDC “is researching what our situation is.” Well, Mr. Newsom, your situation is obviously FUBAR. (look it up) The Governor doesnâ€™t want to take responsibility. The State Legislature doesnâ€™t want to take responsibility. All of the intrenched SCDC administrators donâ€™t want to take responsibility. You would obviously rather make appearances in which you put forth proclamations which the bulk of the public (at least the ones who pay attention) knows are outright falsehoods. Your intrenched mid-level administrators donâ€™t want to take responsibility and threaten to censure employees who try to “rock the boat” out of fear for their own safety. Let us show you a comment left over at the previously linked FitsNews story on Tyheem Henry. It was left by a former SCDC C.O.
Nice! Telling your corrections officers those vests were stab resistant. No false sense of security or potential liability to the taxpayers of South Carolina inherent in that little policy, is there? Any security guard, police officer or soldier who has ever worn a bullet resistant vest on the street or in a combat zone could have told you they wonâ€™t stop a pointed or edged weapon. They make “stab resistant” vests especially for that. It isnâ€™t hard to see why SCDC has a problem retaining quality employees.
One last question for the powers that be at SCDC. Do you have idea how many of your corrections officers have inmates they supervise on their Facebook friends lists, Mr. Newsom? We have an idea, because we run across them from time to time in our research. Fortunately for SCDC we try to be supportive of your underpaid and overworked officers on the front line. We do have someone we report those folks to directly and things manage to get taken care of. No, we wonâ€™t tell you who that person is. So far, we have chosen not to run stories on those people because a story about one bad corrections officer makes all corrections officers look guilty in the eyes of the public. We know that is not the case. However, if you would like, we can start typing up those stories and letting the chips fall where they may. Be sure to let us know how you feel regarding that issue.
Folks, by close of business Monday we thought were finally making progress on this issue. By 7:30 this morning we realized we were being played yet again. Yes, your outrage caused SCDC to violate Tyheem Henryâ€™s “right to privacy”, but it was nothing more than the typical SCDC duck and cover routine. Henry was nothing more than the sacrificial lamb staked out by the administration of the South Carolina Department of CorrectionsÂ to appease the irate masses. They think once you get your lamb chop you will be satisfied and go away. Besides, American Idol comes back on television soon and you will be too busy to ask questions or demand answers anymore.
Then they can go back to conducting business as usual.
Note: Bryan Stirling does not actually assume command of SCDC until October 1st. We still felt the need to address him directly in our efforts to point out some serious deficiencies. If nothing else, he now knows what he is getting into.