SC inmate death has Upstate family wanting answers

CHEROKEE Co., SC (WSPA) - An Upstate family wants answers after an inmate was found dead in a South Carolina prison.

Jamarcus Hykeem Dawkins, 19, was jailed in Cherokee County on burglary charges before family members said he was taken to prison within the last month.

“It was on May the 1st when he called me, and then May the 12th, that's when they called me saying he was dead,” said Dawkins’ mother Ronchetta Crawford as she fought back tears. “I don't understand that.”

The Richland County coroner said Dawkins was found unresponsive in his cell at Kirkland Correctional Institution around 9:30 p.m. Friday.

Coroner Gary Watts said Dawkins died at Palmetto Health Richland Memorial Hospital at 11:24 p.m. and the death appears to be a suicide, though investigators are waiting on test results.

Watts said there is no reason to believe that anyone else was involved in Dawkins' death. 

“When you drive up to the Department of Corrections premises, the first sign you see 'we protect our inmates.' Well, they have failed this family,” said Jack Logan, founder of Put Down The Guns Now Young People, who held a press conference with the family outside the Cherokee County jail on Wednesday. 

Relatives said Dawkins was supposed to be released next month.

The coroner said Dawkins was housed in a unit where he was kept separate from other inmates.

The S.C. Law Enforcement Division is also investigating Dawkins' death.

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