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OnPoint on WACH Fox: Fixing problems in South Carolina's prison system

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - This week on OnPoint on WACH Fox we look at what state leaders are doing to address the troubling situation inside South Carolina's prisons.

This month's deadly riot at Lee Correctional Institution, a maximum-security prison in Bishopville, raged for more than four hours before guards moved in to stop it, according to state of?cials. The riot left seven inmates dead and 22 injured, many of them stabbed or slashed by improvised blades.

Law enforcement personnel waited to enter the housing units at the facility until they could get enough of?cers together to deal with the problem safely, according to state prisons director Bryan Stirling.

When the ?rst of the “inmate-on-inmate altercations” broke out at 7:15 pm, the handful of guards on scene were outnumbered, backed out and called for support. The ?rst response team did not enter the site of the ?rst ?ght until 11:30 pm.

By the time authorities regained control, the disturbance at the prison was one of the deadliest in this country in a quarter-century.

Lee Correctional Institution has a reputation for trouble. Two of?cers were stabbed there in a 2015 ?ght. An inmate was killed during a ?ght in July 2017, another was stabbed to death in November and a third was killed in February. Counting the deaths this month, that’s 10 in the last nine months.

The incident highlights a number of issues officials have been trying to fix in the state prisons system. Understaffing, low pay, and contraband cellphones have been pointed to as a number of factors linked to the difficult situation in the South Carolina Department of Corrections.

So what are state leaders doing to fix it?

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