We debated long and hard about publishing this video. Ultimately, we decided it was the right thing to do.
This clip – obtained from a source inside a South Carolina prison – highlights (graphically) the violence we’ve been writing about far too often related to South Carolina’s embattled correctional agency, the S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC).
According to our sources, this video was taken inside Turbeville Correctional Institution in Turbeville, S.C. earlier this month. Turbeville is a level two (medium security) facility that houses “adult male offenders mostly sentenced under the Youthful Offender Act.”
Most of the inmates only have a limited amount of time left on their sentences.
In the video clip, a cameraman with obvious foreknowledge of the forthcoming stabbing attack narrates while filming on his contraband cell phone. A third inmate stands by with a mop (more on that in a moment) while a fourth inmate assists in the attack by tackling and restraining the victim.
The victim is stabbed at least two dozen times in a span of approximately half a minute – attempting to flee his attacker before being tackled and stabbed again.
Eventually, he falls from the upper level of the Turbeville prison dorm onto the hard floor below – fighting off another inmate before running out of sight.
Not a single SCDC officer is visible at any point during the roughly minute-and-a-half video.
Here is the clip, and please be warned it is extremely graphic …
(Click to view)
We spoke to a source inside one of South Carolina’s prisons about the video, which he said was one of many examples of SCDC inmates “wetting up” (a.k.a. stabbing) their gang rivals.
“That’s the normal response to any problem in here,” the inmate told us. “Wet him up.”
“It’s sad to me,” he added. “When they get home and someone owes them a few dollars … they gonna wet them up? It’s the prison mentality. The cell phones are not the problem it is the gang mentality. The culture of violence. The breeding of corruption.”
Attacks like this are commonplace within Palmetto prisons, we’re told. They are also meticulously planned. One or more attackers wield the weapons while others assume positions along a pre-established perimeter to make sure the victim is unable to escape. A “mop man” is also usually on standby to clean up in the aftermath of the carnage.
“You see the guy carrying the mop,” the inmate told us. “That was to clean up the blood.”
In this case, another co-conspirator was apparently assigned the job of recording the incident on his contraband phone.
As we’ve made clear in a litany of posts this year, the culture of violence inside South Carolina’s prisons has gotten completely out of hand in recent months.
Last week there was a violent attack at Evans Correctional Institution, a level two (medium security) facility located near Bennettsville, S.C. Last month, several outbreaks of violence took place at McCormick Correctional Institution, a level three (maximum security) facility located near McCormick, S.C.
As of last week, McCormick remained on lockdown as SCDC officials dealt with chronic staffing shortages at the prison. In some cases, these shortages have been compounded by lax oversight – which was blamed in the aftermath of a high-profile escape earlier this year from Lieber Correctional Institution, a level three prison located in Ridgeville, S.C.
(Click to view)
Earlier this month, we referred to the escalating violence behind the walls of South Carolina’s prison system as “mystifying.” Aren’t taxpayers doing their part?
Yes … and then some.
According to the latest budget data, SCDC is receiving $482.3 million in the current state budget (which began on July 1). That’s an increase of 7.1 percent over a two-year span.
Is it enough? Apparently not.
At a time when state spending is skyrocketing (approaching the $30 billion mark per year), critical core functions of government like law enforcement and corrections continue getting shortchanged. And outcomes continue to worsen – across the board.
“Republican” leaders at the S.C. State House continue to escalate taxing, borrowing and spending – yet government continues to produce consistently abysmal outcomes – economically, fiscally, educationally and with regards to infrastructure, public safety and protecting our most vulnerable citizens.
All of this is totally inexcusable … and while this news site has been extremely harsh on SCDC director Bryan Stirling in the past (going so far as to demand his resignation), the more we look at the situation we’re honestly not sure whether anyone else could do a better job given what he’s up against.
To his credit, Stirling has implemented some changes at Lieber in the aftermath of this year’s high-profile escape – bringing in a new “transitional warden” who according to our sources has taken several positive steps to improve conditions there.
“They have broken up the gangs and moved inmates around,” our source told us. “They also moved death row (to Columbia, S.C.) so that more correctional officers could be focused on (the) general population.”
(For our coverage of the death row move, click here).
Much more work is needed, though … and it won’t be accomplished on the cheap, either.
(Click to view)
As much as this news site hates to argue for additional revenue, at this point it has become abundantly clear SCDC needs more officers (and needs to pay them significantly more than they are currently paying them). Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pick up the tab for this additional muscle, either. Frankly, we would once again reiterate our call for the privatization of higher education as one possible method of freeing up the necessary revenue.
Seriously: Our state has absolutely no business paying liberal professors to indoctrinate our youth when there are severe shortages of Highway Patrol troopers on our roads and severe shortages of guards in our prisons.
Again … core functions. Government should do a handful of things and do them with excellence, efficiency, accountability and transparency.
Anything less is unacceptable.
Another inmate who reached out to us told us the ongoing staffing shortages will continue to exacerbate the violence.
“SCDC is trying to hide situations when in reality they can’t do (their) job,” the inmate told us. “They expect to lock us down everyday, we might come out two times a week just because they’re short of staff – no showers or anything.”
Multiple statewide lockdowns have been implemented in response to the latest incidents, leaving thousands of inmates to sit and stew for days on end (through no fault of their own, in most cases).
We’ve said it once, we’ll say it again: That’s a powder keg waiting to explode.
“Something has to be done,” the inmate told us. “Were getting punished for them.”
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