(NewsNation) — Alex Murdaugh is serving two life sentences in a South Carolina maximum security prison in protective custody, but he wants back into the general population — despite threats from other inmates.
That’s according to his lawyer, Jim Griffin, who spoke exclusively to NewsNation on Wednesday about Murdaugh’s life behind bars. He was convicted six weeks ago of shooting his wife and son to death in June 2021.
“He thinks he can be productive in the general population. He would rather take his chances on the yard than rot away in a cell, to be honest with you,” Griffin said on “CUOMO.” “He wants to contribute; there a lot of things he can do in the general population. There are programs he can assist with.”
Murdaugh is incarcerated at McCormick Correctional Institution on the South Carolina-Georgia border. The prison includes both a general population wing and a “special management” wing for inmates who may be in protective custody, according to prisonpro.com.
While Murdaugh hasn’t received any threats directly, Griffin said prison officials have told him about threats made against him. He faced similar threats while in county jail awaiting trial, which Griffin said he was able to “navigate.”
“Anytime you’re in prison and you’re a name like he is, you’re going to be challenged … but he was able to overcome and develop relationships, and he was productive in the county jail,” Griffin said.
A once-prominent lawyer, Murdaugh was accused of killing his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, to distract from the impending revelations that he stole millions of dollars from his legal clients.
On the stand, in oftentimes emotional testimony, Murdaugh shed tears and referred to his wife and son by their nicknames, “Mags” and “PawPaw.” The jury took only three hours to return a guilty verdict.
Murdaugh’s attorneys are appealing his conviction and have asked the court to grant the release of funds from an escrow account to pay for some of the legal fees, WJCL-TV reported. The money was previously frozen by the court as part of an agreement in a wrongful death lawsuit settled by Murdaugh and Mallory Beach, who died in a boating accident in 2019. Paul Murdaugh was on the boat at the time it crashed.
Along with some 90 letters of support that Murdaugh has received in prison, people have also offered to help fund his appeal, Griffin said.
“It’s just an outpouring of support that he has received, and it does hearten him, and he’s thankful,” Griffin said. “He is not someone who has given up hope. He has hope for the future; he has hope he will get out one day.”
As for Murdaugh’s only surviving son, Buster Murdaugh, Griffin said his life has been “turned upside down” and that he wants to move forward. Buster and his father have avoided contact via phone, Griffin said, because those calls would be subject to public records requests. Instead, the two communicate through letters.
“He’s trying to protect Buster; he’s trying to protect his family from further exposure and attention,” Griffin said. “Pretty soon Buster will be able to visit him … but that hasn’t been arranged yet.”