Understaffed prisons become a concern across the Midlands

Prison fight lands inmates in hospital

Columbia, S.C. (WACH)-- An increase in prison deaths and stabbings has promoted many concerns about South Carolina prisons.

South Carolina Corrections Director Bryan Stirling spoke with a senate committee Thursday about what he considers to be the issues contributing to some of these incidents.

According to Stirling, under-staffing is the main issue. The national average for officers to inmates is four to 30. However, Stirling says the southeastern states are having the most trouble hiring and retaining officers.

In South Carolina, the ration is well under the national average. For ever one officer there are at least 200 inmates in a cell.

Earlier this month, two inmates managed to strangle four inmates to death at the Kirkland Correctional in Columbia.

Under-staffing is prevalent at the institution with many employees working overtime and overlapping schedules at that institution, however the case is still being investigated.

Also two officers were stabbed at another detention center a few weeks after the murders.

Stirling says the department has taken steps to increase staffing, pointing out that the department will have increased staffing by the end of June.

He also stated that a large number of camera have been installed at many prisons.

Thursday's hearing was the first of several being that this issue cannot be resolved overnight.

The committee plans to hear more testimony in the near future.

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