Tut Underwood

Cell Phones Smuggled into Prisons Pose a State - and National - Problem

By Tut Underwood

Thousands of cells phones are smuggled into South Carolina prisons every year.

Thousands of cell phones are smuggled into South Carolina’s prisons, and those of other states, each year.  This is probably the worst kind of contraband to be smuggled in, say officials, because they are being used to continue some convicts’ careers of crime from behind prison walls.  Murders, drug deals and all kinds of scams are planned and executed from within prisons with these phones, says state Dept. of Corrections Director Brian Stirling.  

State at a Standstill for Method of Executing Condemned Criminals

By Tut Underwood

an electric chair

South Carolina has two methods of executing condemned criminals:  lethal injection and electrocution.  But because convicted prisoners are allowed to choose between them, almost all will choose lethal injection (the last electrocution in the state was in 2008).  This presents a problem, according to Brian Stirling, director of the state Department of Corrections.  The state has run out of the drugs used for lethal injections, and the manufacturers refuse to sell the state more for fear of backlash, because the state has no law to shield the companies’ names from public disclosure.  Thus, if

Cat Cafes Provide Fun, Therapy for Patrons, Homes for Needy Cats

By Tut Underwood

Emily Hughes cuddles with one of the  two-to-three dozen friendly felines to be found at the cat cafe in West Columbia.

Cats are beloved pets by millions, but many people can’t have them because they live where pets aren’t allowed or are subject to other restrictions. However, over the last decade,  a national phenomenon has sprung up to help cat-less cat lovers get their feline fixes: the cat café.  Andres Ortega has opened a cat café in West Columbia, and there are similar cafes in Greenville and Charleston. 

Poison Center is There 24/7 When Accidents Happen

By Tut Underwood

The Mr. Yuk symbol is available as a sticker to put on items dangerous to warn children away.

A child has drunk sweet-smelling shampoo.  A senior has taken his wife’s prescription by mistake.   A person comes to the emergency room after taking multiple medications at 3 in the morning.  What to do?  The Palmetto Poison Center is on-call 24/7 to help with cases from parents’ worries to questions from doctors unfamiliar with the effects of varying drugs taken together. 

Poison Ivy is a Year-Round Threat of Misery

By Tut Underwood

A three-left cluster is an easy way to spot poison ivy.

Poison ivy is a common plant in South Carolina that can make people miserable for weeks.  Naturalist Rudy Mancke said the vine can both grow on the ground and can climb trees, which it likes to do.  The itch and rash poison ivy (and its cousins, poison oak and the rarer poison sumac) produces can last for two to four weeks, according to University of South Carolina allergist Dr. David Amrol.  He says it sometimes can be tricky to detect the rash’s source, because it doesn’t show up for at least 12 hours, and sometimes four or five days. 

Program Brings New York Musicians to Write and Perform with South Carolina Prisoners

By Tut Underwood

Program Brings New York Musicians to Write and Perform with South Carolina Prisoners

Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville counts numerous musicians among its inmates.  Such is their talent that they have attracted the attention of DeCoda, a New York-based chamber music group.  For four years now, the prison has sponsored a program with the group in which DeCoda comes to work with the prisoners at Lee for a week to write and play music for an annual performance.  

USC's International House Aims to Build Careers, Cultural Understanding

By Tut Underwood

Students from Oman, the United States and Italy share an Omani dinner at the University of South Carolina's International House.

The halls of the University of South Carolina’s Maxcy College reflect the voices not only of many students, but of many languages.  Maxcy houses the University’s International House, a living-learning experience for approximately 200 American and international students.  The students derive many benefits from life in International House, from culinary and cultural events to speakers and grant and research opportunities.  Faculty principle Dr.

Pro Bono Program Teaches Law Students the Value of Giving Back

By Tut Underwood

USC Law School's Pro Bono program provides student volunteers for legal services throughout South Carolina.

It’s tax season, and many people are working with tax preparers.  But some preparers are giving away their services for free to elderly or low income clients.  They’re tax law students in the Pro Bono program at the University of South Carolina School of Law.  The Pro Bono program provides volunteer services to many causes year round: clerks for pro bono lawyers, research, wills and other areas of the law. 

Blue Cheese and Indian Legend Mark Two S.C. Mountain Attractions

By Tut Underwood

Issaqueena Falls.

The Blue Ridge Mountains of South Carolina are full of stories, both historic and legendary. The history of Clemson Blue Cheese began in Stumphouse Tunnel. The tunnel is near another popular tourist destination in Oconee County, Issaqueena Falls, named after a legendary Native American princess.

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