A wave of bloody violence swept through Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, South Carolina on Sunday evening and early Monday morning – killing seven inmates and wounding another seventeen. The incidents – which involved multiple stabbings in several of the institution’s dormitories – began at around 7:15 p.m. EDT on Sunday. They weren’t contained until around 2:55 a.m. EDT on Monday, according to the S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC).
When it was all said and done, the Palmetto State had become home to the deadliest outbreak of prison violence in a quarter century.
According to the agency, all staff and responding law enforcement officers were “safe and accounted for.”
The deadly violence took place less than a month after another wave of stabbings at Lee – and five months after the last fatal stabbing to take place at this level three (i.e. maximum security) facility.
The seven inmates who perished in the violence were identified on Monday morning as Eddie C.J. Gaskins, Joshua Jenkins, Cornelius Quantral McClary, Michael Milledge, Damonte Marquez Rivera, Corey Scott, and Raymond Angelo Scott.
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It’s not clear what initiated the brawls, but agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and SCDC prison police are investigating.
Those inside the prison painted a grim picture of the violence – and offered a decidedly dim view of the response of prison officials.
“The COs (corrections officers) never even attempted to render aid, nor quell the disturbance,” one inmate told reporter Meg Kinnard of The Associated Press. “They just sat in the control bubble, called the issue in, then sat on their collective asses.”
To say South Carolina’s prisons have been prone to escalating violence in recent years is putting it charitably. To read some of our recent reports chronicling this untenable situation, click here, here and here.
And to read some of our proposed solutions, click here.
The latest violence at Lee prompted one candidate for governor of South Carolina to point the finger of blame at incumbent “Republican” Henry McMaster – whose administration oversees SCDC.
“Under Henry McMaster’s watch, we’ve seen prisoners jumping fences, rioting, and putting our correctional officers in danger time and time again,” said Catherine Templeton, McMaster’s top rival for the 2018 GOP gubernatorial nomination. “McMaster can’t hide from the systemic problems facing our penal system until after the election.”
“As governor, I will lead a major crackdown to fix our dangerously broken corrections system and treat criminals like criminals,” Templeton added.
News of the latest prison violence to befall the Palmetto State was first reported on the South Carolina Firefighters’ Facebook page.
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