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Seven killed, 17 injured in SC prison riot

Seven killed, 17 injured in SC prison riot

Seven men were killed and 17 more were injured during a riot that began Sunday evening.

According to officials with the state Corrections Department, fights between inmates at Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, South Carolina erupted at around 7:15 p.m. Sunday. According to Stirling, the injured inmates required medical attention outside the prison, which made restoring order more hard for authorities.

Lee County Correctional Facility is a level three, maximum security prison, which means it houses some of South Carolina's most violent offenders. Several violent outbursts have occurred within the penitentiary's confines, including the injuring of two guards in 2015, as well as the death of three inmates during separate incidents throughout 2017.

The department of corrections says all law enforcement officers who responded to the prison are safe and accounted for.

One prisoner who saw the riot exchanged messages with the AP on the condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to have a cellphone and fears retribution from other inmates.

All of seven deaths had been the result of traumatic accidents, " said Lee County Coroner Larry Logan.

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No additional details were immediately provided on the cause of the incident at the prison.

The prison has also been plagued by violence in recent years, but the seven fatalities in an incident at the institution marks the most deadly incidents at a SC prison since the uptick.

Another 17 inmates were injured, the department of corrections said.

"We know that prisons are places where people who have misbehaved on the outside go for rehabilitation and to be away from the general population", he said.

Violence at Lee Correctional is not uncommon. It took until 3 a.m. for authorities to restore order to the facility as the fights raged out of control for hours. When McMaster took over as governor a year ago, he kept Stirling, who had previously worked for him in the state Attorney General's Office. He said cellphones allow gang leaders to continue criminal operations while incarcerated. They were all transfers, serving time at Lee no earlier than last October, with the exception of Joshua Jenkins who arrived in January 2016. About an hour and 15 minutes later, another fight broke out in two other dorms.

But as Gov. Henry McMaster said Monday, the fights were not necessarily a shock to anyone.

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