South Carolina's prisons director says a riot that led to the deaths of seven inmates was a fight over money, territory and contraband.
Fighting at the Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville began around 7:15 p.m. on Sunday evening, according to USA Today. Prison reporter Jared Ware summarized the reported gripes of inmates and their families, saying that corrections officers in Lee County have put metal over windows to deny inmates lighting, "underfed imprisoned folks, they've used state militias to look for cell phones, they've sent hooded guards in to beat people in cells, they've denied drinking water".
Lee County Fire & Rescue says multiple agencies were called into assist with the "mass-casualty incident" at the prison.
Allen states he learned about the morale issues while visiting prisons following the deadly attack at Kirkland past year and expects to follow up on their investigation after this latest riot at Lee. The 17 inmates injured during the incident are still being treated. Two officers were stabbed there in 2015.
The South Carolina Department of Corrections tweeted that the deaths happened in multiple inmate-on-inmate fights in three housing units.
"These are risky people. we can not expect them to give up their unsafe ways just because they're in prison", McMaster said. One man was found unresponsive in his single cell, while another inmate died from injuries he sustained during a fight.
A coroner says it appears numerous seven inmates who were killed during hours of rioting at a maximum security SC prison died of stabbing and slashing wounds. They youngest was 28 years old while the oldest was 44.
The maximum-security lockup in Bishopville houses about 1,500 inmates, some of South Carolina's most violent and longest-serving offenders.
All prison guards and law enforcement staff were said to be safe.
Gov. Henry McMaster said these types of incidents are avoided, or kept to a minimum, by rules and regulations, protocol and training. "It's not a surprise when wer have violent events take place inside the prison, any prison in the country", McMaster said.