Was South Carolina’s Recent Prison Violence Preventable?

South Carolina recently found themselves in the news for all the wrong reasons. The state is home to Lee Correctional Institution, a high security prison which made headlines for a recent riot.

 

Lee Correctional Institution was the location of a number of fights that occurred on April 15, 2018 that resulted in the death of 7 inmates as well as numerous injuries. The facility is home to a number of violent offenders, many of whom have very long sentences, as well as some people who have exhibited behavioral issues. At 7:15 in the evening fights between inmates began. Leaked videos showed an eerie scene, shirtless inmates wandering halls with weapons, one inmate even smearing blood across a white wall. The fights lasted hours, and a large emergency response presence finally entered the facility roughly four hours later. It is unclear why there was such a long wait for the emergency response team to take the scene.

 

South Carolina Republican Governor Henry McMaster tried to brush the occurrence off stating that it should be no surprise that a prison that houses violent offenders would be the home of such a violent night, but in all reality, it is quite surprising. The most recent event that had anywhere near the same deaths occurred in Ohio in 1993. It has become clear that there needs to be important questions asked, mainly, how did this occur. The answer is likely a simple one, there isn’t enough money for the prison to be run correctly. The institution is grossly understaffed and staff numbers fall far behind the necessary amount needed to properly enforce safety and security. In April 2017 there were 90 open positions for front line security at Lee Correctional Institution.

 

Now, South Carolina’s Governor as well as the prison itself are being called out because these deaths and this raging violence was likely preventable had the prison been properly funded and had it been fully staffed. While it is understandable that in these types of environments violence will likely happen, the scale of this particular incident is unimaginable. While McMaster would not comment to media outlets his office did issue a statement that note that he was committed to continuing to work on raising funds for the agency and will make that a priority as long as it is needed. For more information and more details, click here.