Fairfield County Detention Center Director resigns abruptly

Says administration is ineffective, unprofessional, uncaring and unreachable.

WINNSBORO – Longtime Fairfield County Detention Center Director Teresa Lawson resigned abruptly today (Thursday, July 14), telling The Voice that she feels undermined by the county administration to the point that she can no longer effectively do her job.

In an exclusive interview with The Voice after submitting her resignation letter, Lawson said the problems have been mounting over the past year, but the most troubling issue occurred recently when she learned that County Administrator Malik Whitaker had posted a job for a deputy director for the Detention Center without her knowledge or input.

She said the current administration under Whitaker, who has been with the county since December 2021, is ineffective, unprofessional, uncaring and unreachable. Lawson said she has worked for the county for almost 40 years and has served as detention center director for about the last 10 years.

“I feel I’ve done a good job. I’ve never been reprimanded or had any problems associated with my work,” Lawson told The Voice.

“Failure to address [the detention center’s] staffing concerns and other critical issues has made this position impossible to succeed in,” Lawson wrote in her resignation letter that was sent to Whitaker with copies to county council members earlier today (Thursday).

The letter gave several examples as to why she felt she must resign effective today.

“I was not consulted with regards to the newly (sic) deputy directior position. I learned of this by watching a county council meeting.

“Even after it (the position) was approved, I was not aware until someone notified me it was on the website as open,” she wrote.

Lawson said in her resignation letter that she originally requested and desperately needed two officer positions – which she later learned had been frozen the previous fiscal year. Again, she said she had no knowledge or input when the positions were frozen.

Lawson told The Voice that instead of reopening the two needed positions, she learned the administration was giving her one of those needed positions and a deputy director that she did not need.

“Raises have been requested and denied,” she wrote to Whitaker. “We are in desperate need of officers on the floor, not in administration. Due to the severe budget cuts implemented, I feel there may be consequences if there are overages.

“As of right now we have 22 violent offenders and several mental health inmates that require additional security,” she wrote.

She wrote that an audit by the SC Association of County’s insurance provider shows that low staffing is at a dangerous level.

“The mental stress and frustration with this administration is too much for me to carry,” Lawson wrote.

“If this continues, it will place my health, the safety of the staff, inmates and the citizens which we protect in jeopardy. The Fairfield County Detention Center like all [the county’s] emergency departments, are in a crash-and-burn state,” she wrote. “I cannot take the risk of being personally liable for any incident because I am the legal, certified director by state law.”


The comment below in regard to Lawson’s resignation was received from Whitaker at 4:04 this afternoon.

“It is with deep regret I am announcing the resignation of Teresa Lawson as Fairfield County Detention Center Director. Ms. Lawson’s resignation is effective today, July 14, 2022. Director Lawson had been a committed employee of Fairfield County for several years.

Captain Harriet Squirewell of the Fairfield County Detention Center is assuming operation command of the Fairfield County Detention Center for a period of 60 days. Captain Squirewell’s appointment is effective July 15, 2022.  Administration will work with Detention Center staff to support continued safe operation of the Fairfield County Detention Center as we work through the process for hiring new and effective leadership.”


  1. Peter Gainey says

    Another failing by our county council and our county administrator. This is a symptom of county council’s deranged priorities. What’s so maddening about this is that it’s so easy to fix. Less recreational centers. Just fix what you have until finding is properly place. Help the county first – hence the title county council then sneak your pet projects.

    I guess the animal shelter is next, huh??

    Peter Gainey

  2. james says

    council should have known this was going to happen because he knows nothing about county government and how it runs its like you give your keys to your three year old to drive and hope for the best that is crash and burn all day long

  3. Marcus Polk says

    What Whitaker’s statement means: “Someone on County Council has a relative that needs a job.”

  4. Robert Carrison says

    Director of the FCCC is a difficult job, and probably thankless as well. Staffing has long been an issue. One wonders if we wouldn’t be better served by contracting an outside private provider to run the Detention center. I do not think Fairfield County Government has the level of subject matter expertise to manage such a complex operation. The Detention center has been sputtering along for over a decade. I’m certainly no expert, but as a casual observer and IT Provider years ago, I feel confident in my assessment, it’s certainly worth examining.

  5. Anonymous says

    To say the jail faces issues like other jails is indeed true. However other jails are working to retain and recruit. 15/16 dollars a hour is nowhere near enough to put up with the dangerous conditions officers deal with. On top of that you won’t allow overtime to help with the staff shortage which in turn could help with employee lack of pay. Lawson stood up for her people and she got kicked in the tail as a result. It’s a shame and sad. Instead of a raise a 600 dollar bonus over 4 pay periods was given. What a slap on these employees face! Sad to say someone is going to get hurt as a result of people who has no insight of what goes on in a jail being reactive instead of proactive! Also, so me ONE jail administrator that serves as a correctional officer. Being on the floor and interacting and helping out yes if your a good one but, I can honestly say in my 15 plus years of service I have never seen it.
    PS it’s going to be a lot more vacancies behind this one.

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