Cell phones. Drugs. Tobacco. “Green Dot Cards.”
These are the “coins of the realm” within South Carolina’s increasingly violent prison system – which was the setting for the nation’s deadliest prison attack in a quarter century late Sunday/ early Monday.
Seven inmates died and seventeen more were wounded in a wave of stabbings that rocked at least three dorms of Lee Correctional Institution, a level-three (maximum security) prison in Bishopville, S.C. run by the embattled S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC).
But this? This was different …
This attack was bigger, more brazen and far bloodier. As such, it has drawn extensive national media attention to something this news site has been covering extensively over the past few years. To read some of our recent reports detailing the escalating violence within Palmetto State’s prison system, click here, here and here.
And to read some of our proposed solutions, click here.
What happened at Lee? From an official standpoint, the bloody incident remains under investigation by the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and SCDC police.
Of course for those of you unfamiliar with prison investigations, they rarely produce results …
According to our sources, the violence began when rival gangs within the prison moved to claim their “turf” in the wake of several recent inmate transfers. Of course the relatively straightforward narrative of a gang-on-gang attack doesn’t necessarily apply in this situation, we’re told.
That’s because all of the gangs reportedly involved in this incident include members referred to as “renegades.” This term is used to describe especially violent criminals who refuse to follow their organization’s chain of command – which is usually all about securing possession of phones, drugs, cigarettes and “green dot cards,” or prepaid credit cards that routinely serve as currency behind bars.
“Renegades don’t play by the rules,” one source close to the Palmetto State’s gang culture told us. “You can’t control a renegade.”
Specifically, we’re told SCDC officials moved a group of relatively “well-behaved” inmates from Lee to McCormick Correctional Institution in McCormick, S.C. – another state-run prison that has been rocked by violence in recent months.
As part of the transfer, an especially violent group of “renegade” inmates was transferred to Lee – which is widely regarded as the most violent, dangerous and corrupt correctional institution in the state. This led to “a turf struggle with the new arrivals,” one of our sources explained.
Three gangs – the Bloods, the Crips and the Gangsta Disciples (a.k.a. Folk Nation) – were allegedly involved in the ensuing slaughter.
“All of them were renegade members,” our gang source told us.
According to multiple sources inside the prison, two members of the Crips gang were murdered in the F1 “pod” at Lee Correctional late Sunday evening. As the violence escalated, a relatively new arrival who had joined the Crips for protection was said to have been slaughtered “ritualistically” in front of the other inmates in an effort to send a message.
“He was quietly staying out of riot but the bloods came and took him out and killed him,” one source told us. “He was carved up in front of the others.”[timed-content-server show=”2018-Jan-17 00:00:00″ hide=”2018-May-18 00:00:00″]
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After the first round of murders, gang members began “fighting (throughout) the prison.” Eventually the violence spread to three different pods before prison guards and local law enforcement officers finally got the situation under control.
Gruesome images from inside the facility showed the carnage – depicting dead bodies stacked up outside next to a fence like cordwood.
“Some of the inmates were bleeding out in the pile still alive,” one witness told us.
One of them took approximately forty minutes to die …
“It was animal-like,” said another source who witnessed the slaughter.
Take a look (and please be warned, these images are exceedingly graphic) …
(Click to view)
A source close to prison administrators confirmed much of the narrative we were provided.
“I’m not sure on the details (but) you are correct on the groups involved,” the official told us.
The official also confirmed the prison transfers we referenced, but told us it was not immediately clear whether “renegade” members were among those relocated.
“Not sure the ones involved were from McCormick yet but (a group) was moved from there,” the official told us.
Obviously what precipitated this particularly bloody orgy of violence matters … especially to the family members of the victims. And to those still behind bars (and their family members).
Accordingly, we will continue to investigate this incident in the hopes of uncovering more information.
Meanwhile, we will continue to advance reforms aimed at addressing the root issues associated with violence in Palmetto prisons …
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