Inmates Dead, 17 Injured in South Carolina Prison Fighting


Seven inmates were killed and 17 others injured in a series of fights at a rural SC prison, the latest incident in a prison system that officials say is dangerously understaffed.

Although Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling stated they were not understaffed at Lee Correctional at the time the fights started, he has repeatedly stated that lack of funding for officer pay continues to hinder the amount of officers they can hire and how much they can pay.

Authorities at the level three maximum security prison say that the fight started around 7:15 but officers were not able to take control until 11:30. "Rioting like this is a symptom our criminal justice system is broken and needs reform now", he said.

State data show there were 37 serious inmate assaults on prison employees previous year, up from 21 in 2015.

"In prison, it's not like you have guns, or people are going to get run over", Logan said in a phone interview.

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DeSpain also released a photo of Baker and a surveillance photo that police said shows him walking near the time of the crime. The suspect is described as a heavier-set African American female, around 5 feet 2 inches tall, in her mid-20s to early-30s.

State data show there were 37 serious inmate assaults on prison employees previous year, up from 21 in 2015.

Order was completely restored by 3 a.m. Monday, the department said in a statement on its Facebook page. "They don't have guns", Logan said.

The injured inmates required medical attention outside the prison, which is located 40 miles east of Columbia.

The maximum-security facility houses about 1,500 inmates, including some of South Carolina's most violent and longest-serving offenders. It said 12 inmates were killed by other prisoners previous year, up from five in 2016.

These undated photos provided by the South Carolina Department of Corrections shows, from top row from left, Corey Scott, Eddie Casey Gaskins, Raymond Angelo Scott and Damonte Rivera; bottom row from left, Michael Milledge, Cornelius McClary and Joshua Jenkins.

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Superintendent Bruce Watkins wouldn't say how old the child was that brought the knife, only that he is a student at Pleasantview. The parents of the three injured students chose to transport their children either home or to receive further medical attention.

The inmate told AP that he knew at least two of the slain men well. The youngest was 24 years old; the oldest was 44.

The coroner described a chaotic scene upon his arrival, with inmates still fighting.

FILE- Razor wire protects a perimeter of the Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, S.C., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016.

Two officers were stabbed in a 2015 fight, and five were injured in a December 2007 attack by three inmates.

Gov. Henry McMaster said these types of incidents are avoided, or kept to a minimum, by rules and regulations, protocol and training.

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