A prison brawl at a maximum security penitentiary in South Carolina has claimed the lives of seven inmates and injured 17. The fights started around 7:15 pm on Sunday at the Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville and lasted some eight hours until the facility was secured.
One source told the Associated Press bodies were "stacked on top of each other" and that prison staff didn't help the injured while the chaos was underway.
According to the Department of Corrections, none of those injured were prison employees or law enforcement. However, those who were hurt in the brawl had to be escorted to nearby hospitals for treatment.
This isn’t the first incident to occur at the facility. As BuzzFeed reports, there have been a number of similar incidents in the past, including one in recent weeks where a group of inmates overpowered an officer and temporarily took control of one side of a dorm. That situation was contained in a little over an hour and a half.
Meanwhile, inmate deaths are on the rise in South Carolina—they actually more than doubled between 2016 and 2017. SC Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling told the Charlotte Observer that the increase is no surprise. “I’ve been warning about this for a long time,” he told the paper. Stirling attributes the alarming trend to an increase of contraband items, such as cell phones, and under-staffing.