Alex Murdaugh used to hobnob with South Carolina’s legal elite, now he’s housed alongside the state’s most despicable criminals.
The disgraced legal descendant is under 24-hour surveillance in a crowded concrete cell at the high-security Kirkland Correctional Institution. Prison officials fear that his former role as patriarch of a major legal family will make him a target for other inmates.
Meals are brought to the 54-year-old man in his cell. On the rare occasions that he is given a break from confinement, Murdaugh is escorted by at least one corrections officer. He will spend 45 days staying there while authorities conduct medical tests, mental health checks and “gather other additional background information.”
Kirkland is one of the most notorious facilities in South Carolina. Far from safe within the fortified prison walls, inmates like Murdaugh are under constant threat from the murderers, sex offenders and armed robbers they call neighbors.
The shocking absence of law and order inside the so-called correctional facility was highlighted in 2017 when two inmates strangled four others after luring victims into their cell with promises of drugs and cookies.
Alex Murdaugh will spend 45 days under 24-hour surveillance in a cramped cell with just a steel bed, toilet and sink, amid fears he could be a target for other notorious inmates at the Kirkland Correctional Institution.
The Kirkland Correctional Center will be Murdaugh’s grim new home for the next several weeks as he undergoes an evaluation to see where he will be sent permanently.
Alex Murdaugh with his wife Maggie and their sons Buster (left) and Paul (right)
The murders were carried out by Denver Simmons, who was jailed for killing a mother and her son, and fellow prisoner Jacob Philip, convicted of strangling his girlfriend and eight-year-old daughter.
Their motive: The couple wanted to be placed on death row because they were fed up with hellish prison life.
One by one, they lured their four victims into their cell and then used a broom and electrical cord as weapons to beat and strangle them, hiding the bodies behind a curtain on their bunk. Simmons and Philip then calmly walked to the guard station and confessed.
Kirkland inmates have also been known to orchestrate horrific crimes abroad from inside their cells.
Two years ago, armed robber Harvester Jackson used a contraband cell phone to orchestrate the attempted murder of his ex-girlfriend in Columbia, South Carolina.
Jackson was in Kirkland serving a 10-year sentence when he ordered four accomplices to fire on the victim’s home, prosecutors alleged. His ex-girlfriend, who survived the attempt on his life, told investigators it was not the first time Jackson had ordered an attack behind bars.
Denver Simmons and Jacob Philip strangled four inmates during a 30-minute massacre at the Kirkland Correctional Institution in 2017. They lured the victims into their cells, then used a broom handle and electrical cord to beat and strangle them.
Armed robber Harvester Jackson used a contraband cell phone to orchestrate the attempted murder of his ex-girlfriend in Columbia, South Carolina, from inside the Kirkland prison.
Kirkland’s notorious reputation was also highlighted by a recent report that found it had the highest death rate of any prison in South Carolina. Between 2015 and 2021, 160 inmates died in the state institution.
In second place was the Broad River Correctional Institution, which is a stone’s throw from Kirkland and could be where Murdaugh ends up housed. There were 101 deaths at Broad River, which houses medium- and high-security inmates, during the six-year period.
Kirkland is where the vast majority of South Carolina’s male inmates are sent for the first time after being sentenced. After 45 days of evaluation there, authorities will decide where Murdaugh should spend his life sentence. His double-killer status means he’s likely to stay at a high-security site like Kirkland.
Meanwhile, Murdaugh, who was found guilty of murdering his wife Maggie and their son Paul, will spend up to 23 hours a day in his filthy cell, with only a steel bed, toilet and sink.
Trial attorney Robert Rikard has said that because Murdaugh is “convicted of a violent crime, he will go to a facility that only houses violent criminals.” The worst of the worse.
“These are brutal environments and it will be quite a shock after the privileged life he has lived,” Rikard said.
Alex Murdaugh is led out of the courthouse to a prison van waiting to start his life sentence.
The bleak conditions are in stark contrast to the prime world of multimillion-dollar homes from the coast to the Lowcountry hunting grounds you’re used to.
Another mugshot of Murdaugh was released yesterday showing him smiling, with a shaved head and dressed in yellow prison jumpsuit and a white T-shirt.
Murdaugh was sentenced last week to two consecutive life terms after he was found guilty of fatally shooting his wife Maggie, 52, and their youngest son Paul, 22, on the family’s hunting estate in Moselle La night of June 7, 2021.
Kirkland is home to more than 1,700 of the state’s most violent criminals and passes through more than 8,000 prisoners each year for evaluation.
In addition to serving as the processing site for all convicts in the state, it is also home to a specialized maximum security prison for the most dangerous and violent criminals.
“Kirkland is also responsible for the maximum security unit that houses some of the most violent and dangerous inmates in the state,” the website says.
“In addition, the Kirkland Correctional Center houses inmates who are in the state’s protective custody program.”
Judge Clifton Newman delivered a scathing ruling earlier, describing Murdaugh as a “monster” who continued to lie even when the evidence was damning.
‘This case qualifies under our death penalty statute based on the legally aggravating circumstances of two or more persons killed by the defendant by an act or pursuant to a plan or course of conduct. I do not question at all the decision of the State not to prosecute the death penalty.
More than 700 inmates died in South Carolina prisons and jails between 2015 and 2021. Most of those deaths occurred in Kirkland
Most prisoner deaths in the state occurred in Kirkland (160) and Broad River (101)
This undated file photo provided on July 11, 2019 by the South Carolina Department of Corrections shows the new death row at the Broad River Correctional Institution in Columbia, South Carolina.
‘But as I sit here in this courtroom and look at the many portraits of judges and other court officials and reflect on the fact that for the past century, your family, including you, have been prosecuting people here in this courtroom. court and many have received the death sentence, probably for minor conduct.
Remind me of the expression you gave on the witness stand. Oh, what a tangled web we weave. What do you mean by that?’
“I mean when I lied, I kept lying,” Murdaugh replied.
‘And the question is when will it end? When will it end? And it’s over for the jury, because they’ve come to the conclusion that you’re still lying, and they lied throughout your testimony. And maybe with all the crowd of people here, they mostly believe or 80 or 90 or 99% believe that you continue to lie now when your denial statement in court.
Murdaugh learned his fate in the same courtroom where his father, grandfather and great-grandfather tried cases as an elected prosecutor for more than 80 years.
His grandfather’s portrait hung in the back of the courtroom until the judge ordered it removed for the trial.