What We Know About Alex Murdaugh's Life In Prison So Far

In 2023, convicted double-murderer Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences with no chance for parole for the 2021 murders of his wife and son, Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, CNN reports. Through Murdaugh's trial, which drew heavy media scrutiny, it was learned the former attorney defrauded millions of dollars from clients of the prominent Murdaugh family legal firm. Murdaugh also had a long history of severe substance use issues, admitted to in his testimony (via CNN). Murdaugh pleaded not guilty to both murder charges. His conviction and subsequent life sentences have both been appealed (per USA Today).

After the disbarred South Carolina lawyer's sentence was handed down, he reportedly entered Kirkland Correctional Institution in Columbia, South Carolina, per TMZ. Once on site, Murdaugh was at Kirkland for 45 days at maximum for a period of evaluation. In early March, South Carolina Department of Corrections Communications Director Chrysti Shain told Greenville News that Murdaugh would likely be moved to another undisclosed maximum-security prison — presumably one of four such facilities besides Kirkland in the state — after processing at Kirkland. Indeed, reporting from Greenville News claims Murdaugh's period of evaluation at Kirkland had finished by late March 2023, and he was assigned to another long-term prison location.

At Kirkland, he was kept separate from other inmates

The notoriety surrounding the Alex Murdaugh murder case greatly affected what the convicted double-murder's life was like at the Kirkland Correctional Institution while awaiting his permanent maximum-security prison assignment. Most notably, Murdaugh was kept separate from other inmates due to safety concerns. Kirkland cells are made from concrete with only a steel bed, toilet, and sink. While there, Murdaugh's meals were brought to him in his cell, unlike other inmates who dined together in the prison cafeteria. No known threats were made on his life in his time spent at the Kirkland facility.

Once sentenced, Murdaugh was assigned an inmate number from the South Carolina Department of Corrections. At Kirkland, Murdaugh was reportedly assigned to XDL dorm in room number 0043, bunk A. According to Chrysti Shain (via Greenville News) Murdaugh was not held in strict solitary confinement — though he was the only inmate assigned to his cell. Once at a new location, Murdaugh will likely enjoy the same freedoms of movement allowed to other maximum-security inmates. He might earn a medium security level designation after seven years of good behavior, Shain said.

He was kept under surveillance

As mentioned, while housed at Kirkland, Alex Murdaugh was not in solitary confinement, though he was accompanied by an officer on the rare occasion he was allowed to leave his cell. Otherwise, Murdaugh lived life more or less isolated from other inmates. It's reportedly possible for Kirkland inmates to purchase a TV for their cells, though it's unclear whether Murdaugh did so. Murdaugh may have also paid to use the phone. While under evaluation at Kirkland, additional background information was likely gathered along with mental health screenings and other types of evaluations to determine Murdaugh's overall health and well-being.

Those sessions were probably conducted via Zoom calls from inside the Kirkland facility. Speaking with News Nation (via Newsweek), prison expert Larry Levine said, "Nowadays in prisons, they have Zoom-type video setups because they know inmates have to testify and appear and go before proceedings." For this reason, Murdaugh probably never left Kirkland until his permanent prison assignment was announced, Levine said. Though no known threat was made against Murdaugh while there, in the past, a number of serious security incidents have occurred at the correctional institution.

On how it's determined where Murdaugh may spend the rest of his life behind bars, Chrysti Shain told Greenville News: "A lot of things will come into play when we try to determine where an inmate will spend his time." At that time, Shain said Murdaugh was "in a very secure place while we determine where he will best fit."

At his new prison, Murdaugh may mix with other inmates

Regardless of what Alex Murdaugh's life was like at the Kirkland Correctional Institution, his isolation may not continue once housed at his permanent prison location, which as of this report was undisclosed. Murdaugh's two murder convictions aside —along with two guilty verdicts for using a firearm while committing a violent felony — the former attorney's legal troubles are far from over.  

While serving his two consecutive life sentences, Murdaugh faces 99 other charges stemming from insurance and financial fraud, as well as a number of wrongful death cases related to additional deaths from the Murdaugh family's past. Murdaugh also faces drug charges. As of this writing, whether those financial crimes and fraud charges would be tried together or in separate court hearings was unknown. Though Murdaugh spoke openly of fraud, theft, and other types of financial malfeasance on the stand, he has yet to enter an official plea on those charges.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).